SALEM — The House of the Seven Gables kicks off its 2018 Community Conversation series on Thursday, July 26, 6 to 8 p.m., with an exploration of one of Salem’s groundbreaking moments in the history of black voting rights.
Salem Black Picnic is an historically significant, little-known event that began in Salem in 1741 and continues to this day. In 1741, enslaved and freed African Americans gathered in Salem to elect a Black Governor who represented the region’s black population in legal and judicial matters. Negro Election Day is now called Salem Willows Black Picnic, and the event still focuses on voting and community.
All are invited, free of charge, to The Gables’ Community Conversation. Dr. Kabria Baumgartner, a professor of American Studies from the University of New Hampshire, leads the exploration of this important part of Salem’s history and the representation of the region’s African American population. According to Baumgartner and local community leaders, the earliest mention of this event in Salem is from a diary entry dated May 27, 1741, where it is referred to as “Negro Hallowday.” The annual gathering now takes place at Salem Willows and anyone with a driver’s license or birth certificate can come, register to vote and enjoy a day of barbecues, family games, music and dance, and more.
Kabria Baumgartner is assistant professor of American Studies at the University of New Hampshire. Her research interests focus on nineteenth century American history, culture and literature with a focus on the Northeast, Massachusetts in particular. She has earned numerous awards to support her research, including fellowships from the Massachusetts Historical Society and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation. Her book, “A Right To Learn: African American Women and Educational Activism in Antebellum America,” is under contact with New York University Press.
Those interested may make reservations www.7gables.org. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-744-0991, ext. 152. The event will be held at The House of the Seven Gables’ Visitor Center, 115 Derby St., Salem, Massachusetts. Limited parking is available onsite.