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The struggle for educational equality

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Eagle-Tribune, March 2022

When history is explained, the main actors are usually nations, armies and those who lead them. But as practiced by Kabria Baumgartner, a Newburyport resident and the Dean’s Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at Northeastern University, history is found in the intimate elements of personal relationships.

An example of this approach will be provided by her talk on “Black Women of Essex County—Charlotte Forten and Sarah Remond,” at the North Andover Historical Society this Thursday, March 10 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The talk is free but those planning to attend should register at

Forten and Remond were 19th century activists who fought against racial discrimination for their right to be educated, and to educate others. They crossed paths in Salem, Massachusetts, in the early 1850s, when Forten roomed with members of Remond’s family while she went to school. “I’m interested in their friendship,” Baumgartner said. “They were not the same age, but they weren’t too far apart. Charlotte was able to befriend Sarah.” Baumgartner enjoys “imagining the kinds of conversations they may have shared about education,” which for Remond included some especially difficult memories. “Sarah had this very difficult, terrible experience within the Salem Public Schools,” Baumgartner said. “She was expelled from the East School for Girls because she was Black, an incident that stayed with her and bothered her.”

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