A Community Walk Celebrating Cambridge's Black and Brown History

Come together to serve and honor the legacy of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. for the 2023 MLKDay Community Walk through The Coast, Riverside, Cambridgeport neighborhoods and learn about Cambridge’s Black and Brown history.  Join community members, residents and teen volunteers, on January 16, 2023, to reflect on how Martin Luther King Jr. might respond to the current events, challenges and success of the this area, with its deep rooted history that has shaped all of Cambridge. Our community partners designed this walk to inspire learning and service, starting conversation on how past and present have collided to form a vibrant community—often overlooked by folks living and visiting Cambridge.

We will begin our 2023 walk at Starlight Square in Central Squares’ cultural district (84 Bishop Allen Dr.) at 12:30 and begin our walk promptly at 1:00  Choose a longer or shorter walk-we welcome you for all or part of the walk. REGISTER

Volunteers in red caps will direct you and point to signage that highlights information that will inspire you to start conversations about equity, social and racial justice. Warm up at locations of significance for some community conversations and learning.

More information on the 2023 route and particular sites with art and inspiration highlighted will be shared here and on our social media sites.  We can’t wait to see you.  

For the MLK Community Walk, Many Helping Hands 365 is proud to partner with Abundant Life Church, Black History in Action Cambridge, Cambridge Arts, Cambridge Community Center Cambridge Community Foundation, Cambridge Public Health Dept, Central Square BID, History Cambridge, My Brother’s Keeper Cambridge, Cambridge NAACP, Pentecostal Tabernacle Church, St Augustine’s Church and YWCA Cambridge


Our 2023 map will be coming soon! Look for updates for the 2023 route with highlights including Central Square Church (formally First Baptist) where Rev King spoke in 1960, The Cambridge Community Center, an important vibrant fixture of the neighborhood and St. Augustine’s, an amazing example of history that is undergoing a transformation.  

Below are some points of interest from our 2022 walk in the Port section of Cambridge.

2022 walk highlights

St Bartholomew's Episcopal Church

St Bartholomew's Episcopal Church has been a presence in the community for over a hundred years and services mainly the Afro-Caribbean residents of the city.

Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1984 the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House is one of the oldest center for community and culture in the Cambridge community. The center provides educational services with academic and social enrichment programs and a food panty providing emergency needs.

Throughout its history, it has always maintained the basic goals of a Settlement House: “To provide focus, education, recreation, and orientation for its surrounding community; to be the socializing vehicle whereby the middle class and working class could meet…”

Washington Elms

By the 1920s, Black residents — consisting not only of African Americans but also a large influx of Barbadians and Jamaicans who came seeking jobs — made up nearly 5 percent of Cambridge’s population. They resided largely in the lower Port neighborhood, in Central and Porter Squares, and along Walden Street between Richdale Avenue and Mead Street.

The ensuing decades brought disruptive government-enforced housing segregation, including the 1938 razing of a low-income tenement neighborhood. In its place, two low-income housing developments were built side by side in the late 1930s to early 1940s, and they practiced segregation in housing assignments, with Newtowne Court primarily for white and Washington Elms for Black residents.

Union Baptist Church

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. gave a sermon at this historic church on June 20, 1954.

The end of slavery and the Civil War brought many work opportunities for southern blacks, and with the rise of industrialization. A steady stream of former slaves and sharecroppers, particularly from the Tidewater area of Virginia, came to the Boston area to fill the many domestic and service labor jobs vacated by Irish and Italian immigrants as they headed to the factories in New England. They joined with the population of free blacks already living here to bolster the economy in Cambridge with their sweat and toil.

Into this milieu, Union Baptist Church was born."A quick glance at its activities, gleaned from news accounts, tell of a fellowship that took the education of its children very seriously, and held social uplift at the forefront of its mission.” (Union Church website) A beautiful stained glass window in the church is of Charlotte Hawkins Brown, devoted patron and second President of Wellesley College-she became nationally known as an educator, lecturer, civil rights activist, author, and cultural leader.

Moses Youth Center

Moses Youth Center celebrates the work of Robert Moses and his family who pushed for STEM education as a civil right. The Department of Human Services at the Moses Youth Center provides vital programs for youth and adults including education, recreation, after school programs and community engagement.

Central Square Church (Also know as First Baptist Church)

Over 2,000 Throng Church to Hear Martin Luther King, Alabama Bus Boycott Leader”-read the Cambridge Chronicle of January 14, 1960 Today this church, standing tall in Central Square is closed for renovations and a merger of two congregations made up of primarily Black and Asian congregants is underway.