Desegregation in the "Cradle of Liberty"

A brochure is sideways with a central blue area with black text that reads Desegregation in the Cradle of Liberty. A black subtitle over a gold background reads The struggle for Equal Education in Boston, 1798 to 1976.
A remix of the original 1976 park brochure for Boston National Historical Park.

NPS Illustration/E Hanson Plass

Established in 1974 in time for the nation’s bicentennial commemoration, Boston National Historical Park has long embraced the revolutionary legacy of Boston.

Visitors who came to the park in the 1970s might have picked up an official 1976 Boston brochure (see stylized versions above and below, as well as an original at the Library of Congress). Using the map as a guide, they likely followed the neon red line of the Freedom Trail, which connects many of the city's revolutionary era historic sites.

The brochure also offered readers a summary of the city's patriotic role in the American Revolution. By ending Boston's story in 1776, however, it failed to explore how the ideas of the revolution continued to be debated, changed, and protested for the next 200 years. In fact, when this brochure circulated in the 1970s, the culmination of an equally long struggle played out in the same buildings and streets of the American Revolution.

The struggle for equal education in Boston began in the late 1780s and continued through the 1970s when turbulent protests engulfed the city. Historic sites that now comprise the National Parks of Boston served as the setting for several of the movement's most contentious moments.

In this article series, we invite you to follow this legacy that forms a different kind of "Freedom Trail" — one that took place over much of the same ground but spans a period from 1787 to 1976.

Explore the slightly modified 1976 brochure map below. Click on the highlighted historic sites to understand the role they played in the ongoing struggle to desegregate the "Cradle of Liberty."

For an overview of the Black struggle for equal education in Boston, check out the article below the map.

1970s era map depicting downtown Boston with call out insets for several areas. African Meeting House State House and 54th Memorial City Hall Boston Massacre Site Faneuil Hall Dorchester Heights Monument Bunker Hill Monument

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    Last updated: May 30, 2024