We Claim/Reclaim Space: Darby Vassall’s Life and Legacy
Photographic print on stereo card of Longfellow House on Brattle Street in Cambridge, MA. Photo circa 1850-1920. Source: Boston Public Library
Learn about Darby Vassall and Boston's historic Black community leaders, abolitionists, and activists through a digital exhibition.
As an effort to center stories of Black resistance and contributions of enslaved people that have been overlooked in popular historic narratives, the initiative on Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery commissioned a digital exhibition by the Museum of African American History, Boston & Nantucket: We Claim/Reclaim Space.
The central figure of the exhibition is Darby Vassall, who was born into enslavement. Darby went on to play an important role in Boston’s free Black community, and his life and activism illustrate Black resilience, agency, and achievement in the face of persistent discrimination.
We Claim/Reclaim Space examines the lives, work, and legacies of early Black and abolitionist communities in Boston and Cambridge as they established and recorded their history, memory, and activism. From the American Revolution through the end of Reconstruction, they pushed to expand the boundaries of freedom and citizenship locally, nationally, and ultimately globally.