Organ pipes in the Sanctuary of First Church in Cambridge. A wrought iron chandelier hangs in the foreground.

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“I Could Take This Tour 100 Times”

November 8, 2022

In October, over 50 members  from First Church (UCC), First Parish (UUA), and Christ Church (Episcopal) joined for one of two six-stop tours of Harvard’s “Landscape of Slavery.” Dan Smith has been working with Harvard Chaplains, especially Alden Fossett and Rita Powell of the Episcopal Chaplaincy, to offer similar tours for different groups at Harvard following the release of the Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery report. So far, they have led tours co-sponsored by Harvard’s Office of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging; the Harvard Alumni Association; the Faculty of Arts and Sciences; and groups from Harvard’s Divinity and Kennedy Schools.

Here’s what one participant from the Harvard Square churches group shared in response:

I could take this tour 100 times and still barely be able to absorb the depth and breadth of history that has been hidden in plain sight. The tour is revelation after revelation of painful, shameful reality that rocks the foundations of what I was taught as a child. In fact, it’s like an invitation to take that foundation, those rocks  and put them out in some kind of circle or cairn and sit with what it means to be taught so much non-history. How many times have I sat peacefully in Longfellow Garden ignorant of the deeper history? How many times have our kids gone to the Peabody museum on field trip after field trip? What will it mean, what will it do to share a more honest version of our ancestors? The tour is part of a long journey and took me a long way down a road I was already trying to walk. I hope I can take it again and again.

If you missed a chance this Fall, more tours will be offered in the Spring. Stay tuned!