After the African Meeting House opened its doors in 1806, black Bostonians gathered there to worship and educate their children, fight slavery and recruit black soldiers for the Civil War.
As executive director of the neighboring Museum of African American History, Beverly Morgan-Welsh has spent six years overseeing efforts to restore the brick meeting building in the heart of Beacon Hill to its place as “the crown jewel” of a thriving community.
“The building was always buzzing. It was a place where people gathered together,” she said. “It’s the oldest extant black church in the U.S.”
Morgan-Welsh will join representatives of the National Park Service today to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Boston African American National Historic Site at 4 p.m. in Converse Hall at 88 Tremont St., Boston.
A two-hour program, “Black Entrepreneurs: Citizenship in the 18th and 19th Centuries,” will explore citizenship in American society today through readings of historical passages by local and national leaders and presentations by keynote speakers, Cecilia Suyat Marshall, widow of late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and actor Charles Dutton.
Morgan-Welsh said the keynote speakers discuss links between understanding history and being good citizens.
“It is easy to say but difficult to understand: If you don’t understand history, you don’t understand citizenship,” she said. “The African Meeting House is not just any landmark. It is a place where we will discuss history to educate people but not only about history.”