The fascinating stories of 19th century Black Americans throughout New England inspired Kabria Baumgartner, a professor of history and the African diaspora at Northeastern, to shift her career focus from literature to the stories of real people. And the rich history surrounding her home in Newburyport prompted her current mission to erect public signage throughout the historic port city highlighting the important role of Black Americans.
“It’s been a great joy to work on this, and not just because it’s connected to my research on African Americans in New England, but in part because it’s where I live and it means something to me in that way and to my children who are growing up here,” says Baumgartner, who grew up in Los Angeles. She moved to Newburyport with her family as she continued her research into Black history in New England. “They’re going to get a chance to see these historical markers as a part of their community.”