You care about history. You care about equality. You feel that your actions here, today, can have a broad and lasting impact on the future. Nonotuck Street in Florence, Massachusetts once provided a place for people like you. Now, it beckons once again.
On Nonotuck Street and in the surrounding area radical abolitionists like Erasmus Darwin Hudson, George W. Benson and David Ruggles gathered in 1842 to forge a life of equality they hoped would inspire our nation to confront the evils of slavery and corporate greed. Later the street became a haven for self-emancipated slaves, some of whom owned houses still standing just down the street. They worked in the mills along side Irish immigrants who flooded into the area in the wake of the Great Potato Famine. Evangelical abolitionist played their part in Florence as well with J.P. Williston employing fugitive slaves in his cotton mill across the street from the Ruggles Center. Self-emancipated African Americans Basil Dorsey, Joseph Willson, Lewis French, William Wright, Henry Anthony and their families made Florence their homes and most of their houses survive.
Soon today’s students, local residents, scholars and supporters will explore and gain inspiration from the stories of those who made Florence a unique multicultural community. The opening of the David Ruggles Center, mere footsteps from the original buildings of the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, is the result of a generous outpouring of public support. Yet in these difficult economic times the DRC will only survive and grow with the help of dedicated friends who share its vision.
Please consider helping this effort by making a donation today, and hope to see you in April for the Ruggles at 200 Symposium!
Please send your tax-deductible donation to:
The David Ruggles Center
Florence, MA 01060