Excellence in Cultural Resource Management
Marty Blatt, Chief of Cultural Resources (Retired)
Boston African American National Historic Site and
Boston National Historical Park
Blatt worked with Donald Yacovone of the DuBois Institute at Harvard University and David Harris of Harvard University Law School to present a compelling Civil War sesquicentennial program titled, Freedom Rising –The Emancipation Proclamation and African American Service in the Civil War.
Freedom Rising took place in May 2013 and consisted of three elements:
- a keynote address delivered at Boston's African Meeting House by nationally distinguished scholar Eric Foner
- a day-long symposium at Harvard featuring several renowned scholars
- a historical pageant, "Roots of Liberty –The Haitian Revolution and The American Civil War," performed at the historic Tremont Temple.
Blatt conceived the idea for "Roots of Liberty" and was the key player to make it happen. Aware that a substantial Haitian-American population in the Greater Boston area had little contact with the National Park Service, Blatt also knew from recent scholarship that the Haitian Revolution had greatly influenced black and white abolitionists and black Union troops. With this in mind, he recruited the Underground Railway Theater to produce the historical pageant, which featured a diverse cast of actors and actresses, dancers, music, a choir, and an enormous puppet figure of the iconic Haitian leader Toussaint Louverture.
The performance featured actor Danny Glover portraying Toussaint. Part of the script was crafted by popular Haitian American writer Edwidge Danticat, who, along with Glover, participated in a brief post-pageant conversation with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., of Harvard. The performance attracted an overflow crowd with 1,700 in attendance and 300 people turned away due to reaching capacity. A significant portion of the audience was comprised of Haitian Americans and African Americans.