CA student interns support the Robbins House
Over the summer and into the fall, three Concord Academy students completed internships at the Robbins House, a center of African American life and history in Concord, Mass.
Amanda Shih ’21 says helping to plan collaborations with local organizations allowed her to “connect with Concord (both past and present) in ways that I hadn’t been able to before.” Her projects included organizing a virtual “Activism and Art” forum with Concord Art, a local center for the visual arts, to discuss Keith Morris Washington’s exhibition and activist art, gathering resources on activism and art for the Robbins House website, and coordinating the Robbins House’s exhibition at the Umbrella Arts Center.
The Robbins House has been closed due to the pandemic, so Jared Rhee ’22 helped tell its story online, through virtual tours and educational videos. He learned a good deal while editing them. “A lot of the historical information about the Black residents of Concord who lived in this house I just didn’t know,” he says. “We usually talk about history on a national level, but there’s so much we can learn based on local history.”
Both Jared and Isadora Goldman Leviton ’21 had taken a course in U.S. African American history taught by CA’s History Department chair Claire Nelson, which led to their interest in this internship. Isadora says, “Claire pushed me to think in depth about African American history, but also about how white people should be engaging with it.” Last spring, she studied global leadership and politics while in South Africa, where she says she was “forced to have conversations about how white people could unlearn a lot of the tropes we were educated with.” This summer, she was one of several CA students to organize weekly demonstrations at the Concord rotary in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. And for the Robbins House, she coordinated a social media campaign to engage local teens.
A display inside the Robbins House about some of the house’s former inhabitants.
Although she had attended Concord-Carlisle public schools, Isadora hadn’t known about the Robbins House, which sits opposite the Old North Bridge, before coming to CA. In creating social media posts, most of them educational and some aiming to spur young people to action, she particularly enjoyed learning about Susan Garrison, whose brother Peter Robbins purchased the house. The only woman of color among the charter members of the Concord Female Antislavery Society in the 1830s, Garrison risked her life to oppose the slave trade, also petitioning against the annexation of Texas and the removal of the Cherokees from their homeland in the southeastern United States. “There have been people pushing the boundaries for a lot longer than we know,” Isadora says.