Article

BLACK in the cradle of liberty

Event graphic for "BLACK in the cradle of liberty."

BLACK in the cradle of liberty

Sunday, September 24
3:00 - 4:30PM
Great Hall at Faneuil Hall

BLACK in the cradle of liberty is a declaration featuring: DJ WhySham, Nnenna Loveth, Ryan-Rei Fielder, Crystal Valentine, Tim Hall, Ifé Franklin, Danny Rivera, Porsha Olayiwola, Anastasia Wade, Cakeswagg, Javonna Corbin, and Kenard Williams. The performance explores agency, voice, and the power of place.

The program, taking place at Faneuil Hall, is a part of Revolutionary Spaces' Raising Voices Festival: A Celebration of Music, Art, and the Power of Protest. Commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, Raising Voices is a multi-disciplinary arts festival in the heart of downtown Boston that celebrates the power of protest throughout history.

For more than 250 years, Faneuil Hall has opened its doors to dialogue and debate centered on the founding questions of this country—What does liberty mean? Who is included—or excluded—in our visions of liberty? Using the "Cradle of Liberty" as a platform, generations have grappled with these questions and responded with their own answers. BLACK in the cradle of liberty continues this tradition by sparking thoughtful, compelling conversations about the complexities of our past and our hopes for the future during the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution.

This program is made possible through a partnership among the National Parks of Boston, the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, and the Museum of African American History, with generous funding from the Mayor's Office and the National Park Service Civil Rights Interpretation & Education Fund.

Lewis Hayden and Elizabeth Blackeley Speak Their Truths or It’s 170 Years Later and We are Still Speaking

Poem by Porsha Olayiwola, City of Boston Poet Laureate

Lewis Hayden Speaks His Truth at Faneuil Hall, 1850 Elizabeth Blackeley Speaks Her Truth at Faneuil Hall, 1850
if you are asking me, just know
i'm here for truth, i'm here to set things right
it's either we all free, or we all finna get free
it's either peace or i'm instigating a way
i am no cautionary tale, listen
i am no beacon, just on beacon hill--a man groomed
from the plantation of their father's father
my people and i, we stay ready
come up north and we have a haven-- we
keep gunpowder to season the slavers
we keep it tender--no kin to me will be caught--
underground railroad keeper--ready to risk a riot than
end in the bowels of a courthouse--heaven or haven:
your choice-- we operate a tad bit different
up here-by any means we stay vigilant vigilante
some heroes wear capes, others tote guns
we eye-for-an-eye and life-for-a-life--we march
up to the schools and to the state house
we march up throuh boulevards, trust
strength in the cradle of liberty--black
like desire, in the city on a hill
i see it one or two ways,
it's either liberty or it's death
that's right--i'm willing to die
for the right to my life--if they think
i would rather rot like plums left
too long in the sun, a girl grown
from the plantation of their mother's mother,
they stay wrong--some of those white folk
become kin to evil, an unnecessary devil--i'd rather
lay fronzen, frost bite through winter, than be kept
a slave--underground passage--be
curl up like a coffin--find me in the belly of a ship
stowaway--suffocate-smoke me out, sir, and i stay hidden
i stay quiet until the time is right [now] --trust
if you coming for me, it will not be whilst i breathe
some women poison the master, others live on
past the deadline of the master's imagination
best believe i will be living the best black life i can muster
it's either noose or nuisance, i cackle at the graveyard, black
joy ringing like a freedom bell--black love
living in the chamber of my heart
and we will never take no, as an answer

Press Kit

Park & Partner Information

Built in 1742, Faneuil Hall has served as a space for Bostonians to gather, protest, and debate for over 250 years. Though most known for its Revolutionary-era town meetings and protests, Faneuil Hall's Great Hall has also welcomed abolitionists, suffragists, labor unionists, and LGBTQ+ activists through its doors. Today, Bostonians continue to use Faneuil Hall for political, social, and cultural events. 

Faneuil Hall is owned by the City of Boston and operated as a visitor center and historic site by the National Park Service. To learn more about the history and legacy of Faneuil Hall, please visit:  

Over the span of three decades, Superintendent Creasey has blended his background in planning, public lands management and academia to serve in a variety of leadership positions with the National Park Service.

Creasey currently serves as the general superintendent of the National Parks of Boston which include Boston Harbor Islands, Boston National Historical Park, and Boston African American National Historic Site.

In 2010, he took a sabbatical and attended Harvard University Graduate School of Design as a Loeb Fellow where he concentrated on leadership, urban planning and public policy.

Prior to coming to Boston, Superintendent Creasey was the Director of the NPS Stewardship Institute and Superintendent of the Marsh, Billings Rockefeller National Park in Woodstock, Vermont. The Park and Institute convened park practitioners that explored innovative approaches for land conservation, environmental leadership and civic engagement. Creasey and his team were the architects of the NPS Urban Agenda that defined a strategy for designing 21st century parks and reaching more diverse constituencies and making parks relevant to all Americans.

He has also served as the Superintendent of Lowell National Historical Park in Massachusetts; the Commissioner for the National Parks of New York Harbor, overseeing ten national parks within the metro region of New York City and New Jersey; the Executive Director of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor in Rhode Island and Massachusetts - a bi-state partnership aimed at environmental restoration, historic preservation and recreation development; as Project Manager on the Los Caminos del Rio Heritage Project, a complex and collaborative planning effort along the lower 200 miles of the Rio Grande River in Mexico and Texas and; as a Park Planner for the NPS where he developed plans for new national parks and heritage areas in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and New Jersey. His early rangering years included stints as a river ranger, mounted patrol, backcountry ranger, and educator.

The National Parks of Boston is a collection of three National Park Service sites – Boston National Historical Park, Boston African American National Historic Site, and Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park. Established by individual legislation and for designated purposes, the three units have come together under a unified organizational umbrella to collaborate in ways that celebrate our cultural heritage, reconnect people to history and nature, and provide outdoor recreation opportunities on land and on the water. For more information, visit: www.nps.gov/bost, www.nps.gov/boaf, and www.bostonharborislands.org

Photo for Boston National Historical Park (Credit: NPS Photo/Matthew Dwyer)

Photo for Boston African American National Historic Site (Credit: Matt Teuten)

Photo for Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park (Credit: NPS Photo)

The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture is a City agency that enhances the quality of life, the economy, and the design of the City through the arts. The role of the arts in all aspects of life in Boston is reinforced through equitable access to arts and culture in every community, its public institutions, and public places. Key areas of work include support to the cultural sector through grants and programs, support of cultural facilities and artist workspace, as well as the commissioning, review, and care of art in public places. Learn more at www.boston.gov/arts.

Founded in 1967, the Museum of African American History (MAAH) is New England’s largest museum dedicated to preserving, conserving, and interpreting the contributions of African Americans. MAAH is home to four original African-American buildings built at the birth of the nation and are still standing. The Museum’s mission connects colonial and early African American history and culture in Boston, Nantucket, and the larger New England area with the abolition of slavery and current explorations of race and the struggle for human rights. Learn more at www.maah.org

Boston National Historical Park, Boston African American National Historic Site, Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

Last updated: December 20, 2023