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

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

Last updated: December 20, 2023