Since launching this website to create space for the often unheard stories of Blacks in Amherst and on a larger scheme, the Pioneer Valley, my goal remains the same, but my passion has increased!


Whether we believe it or not, WE carry the magic dust that makes the invisible-visible again! The disinherited, a celebrated part of our t/own story! However, far too few of us today, even know that there are stories to tell.


So...I would love to hear family stories that shed light on the Black community in the early days, whether servant or free. I would love to get copies of photographs, letters, film clips, recordings, newspaper articles and artifacts that have preserved places now demolished and people long forgotten. Places like the Beehive- a Black tenament house once situated in downtown Amherst. Or, the Pauper's Farm in South Amherst, home for some of the town's destitute.


As we share, we can create together a space where the old and the new is woven together with a spirit of Reconciliation. And in that space, we can celebrate the musical genius of talents like Horace Boyer, Max Roach and Archie Shep - embracing their tenacity to rise up beyond the social cues intent on stifling their strength, their voice into mediocrity.  Under the "Full Moon of Sonia," (one of my favorite Sonia Sanchez albums), we learn to say Good Morning Sex, and learn the passion of protest. Feeling alive, unabashed; aware that there are others: sculptors, diplomats - Black women and men, some were same sex loving, and/or heretics, lovers of God; people who cast their lot into time and transcended the attitudes that tried to displace them! This site is for them.


This site is for us. We who walk the streets of Amherst unaware of its past. We who drive down Northampton Street looking for black faces like our own, feeling an interloper; unaware of the voices, the laughter, the dance and song of people like us...Black people(!), who once walked these same streets, and whose spirits eminante from houses on Hazel, McClellan, Gaylord, Railroad and the many places they called home. People who despite their circumstances embraced life and left a legacy to be raised high!


This site is for anyone coming to terms with stories of the past, written with the intention to displace entire communities and cultures. We can continue to hide under the cloak of shame, trying to avoid/deny the legacy of institutional racism, or the gnawing presence of internalized racism. Or, we can emancipate ourselves from the social cues that continues to oppress. For in connecting with our past, we remember that we are all linked by the stories we tell.


If you'd like to contribute or add to a story started in these pages,please contact us at amherstblackhistory@mail.com.


Enjoy the journey and Thank you for reading.







Dr. Amilcar Shabazz
Dr. Amilcar Shabazz

Dedicated to

Dr. Amilcar Shabazz, chair of W.E.B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies, and instructor of the class "Heritage Of The Oppressed." Thank you for reminding us the importance of learning the stories of the "other." 

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