Special Exhibit: Black Neighborhoods and Families in Amherst

Jun 10, 2022

Ancestral Bridges exhibit

Ancestral Bridges Exhibit of Historical Photographs and Artifacts

This exhibit will be up through Saturday, Nov 5.

Charles Thompson

Pictured: Charles Thompson, “Professor Charley” employed by Amherst College and the Stearns Family.

This special exhibit, curated by Ancestral Bridges, is in our first floor galleries and opened during the Amherst History Museums stop on the Ancestral Bridges Juneteenth Heritage Walking Tour. The exhibit features historic photographs of the first Black and Afro-Indigenous families who lived and worked in Amherst through the centuries. Some of whom served in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War; including Christopher Thompson, one of the brave who traveled to Texas and carried out the military acts that ended slavery in America on June 19, 1865, the day we now celebrate as Juneteenth. Christopher and his brothers, Charles, Henry, James, and John are laid to rest in Amherst’s West Cemetery.

Debora Bridges, a descendant of these families and 3x great-daughter of Christopher Thompson, will be present on most Saturdays throughout the season. Debora is the curator and docent of the Civil War Tablet exhibit at the Bangs Community Center.

The exhibits finale features artwork by Dr. Shirley Jackson that weaves the exhibit to present day and highlights her new project Tote2Vote.com.

Pettijohn Family

Pictured above: The Chesley Pettijohn family gathered at their home on Paige Street.

Ancestral Bridges supports and builds programs that celebrate BIPOC arts, history, and culture in western Massachusetts. We also partner with local communities to create educational and economic opportunities so that BIPOC and disadvantaged youth can thrive. Learn more at ancestral-bridges.org.

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