WGBH News: Old North Church, a beacon of freedom, grapples with its own ties to slavery

Last year Old North Church began a broader rethinking about how to re-tell the complicated parts of its history of how slavery intertwined with the cries for freedom fueling the American Revolution. Not an easy task, considering that the church’s original steeple, the famous spire that signaled “one if by land, two if by sea” to Paul Revere, was built with the proceeds from enslaved labor.

“New England, in general, has done an excellent job of whitewashing our history, reshaping the historical narrative to suggest that slavery was maybe only a southern problem,” Old North vicar Matthew Cadwell said recently. “In fact, it touched every area of Boston, including the church. And so that's been an important learning and a difficult learning for us at Old North.”

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