Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cambridgeport History: Magaret Fuller

This Memorial Day weekend, as the neighborhood pauses to remember those who have served to defend our country, we might also spare a thought for a giant among C-port's native sons and daughters: women's rights advocate, pioneering journalist, leading Transcendentalist and literary critic Sarah Margaret Fuller.

May 23rd marked the 200th anniversary of Fuller's birth in 1810 in what was then Cambridgeport (now the Area IV neighborhood of Cambridge), just a few short blocks from Central Square on Cherry Street. Dina Harris penned a great column in the Cape Cod Times to mark the occassion, unearthing Fuller's amazing legacy, which has not diminished but has faded in the 160 years since her death. (An amazing life ended in dramatic fashion in an 1850 shipwreck off of Fire Island, NY.) Her account adds to numerous others in summarizing Fuller's contributions to journalism, to feminism, to philosophy, and to much else. Harris captures the unique blend of qualities in Fuller by quoting Edgar Allen Poe: "Humanity is divided into Men, Women, and Margaret Fuller."

Her childhood house on Cherry Street is now a National Historic Landmark, and since 1902 has served the city's most vulnerable residents by providing needed shelter and services. Today the Margaret Fuller House is a community institution with a "busy food pantry, an out of school time program for children, summer camp, outreach to young adults at risk, heath related programs for seniors and men of color, community organizing, and an open computer center and free technology classes. We host community-wide events, financial, exercise, poetry writing, drumming and other classes and welcome the Area IV community to meetings and local gatherings." (from the MFH website) The organization is marking 2010 with a year-long celebration of Fuller's legacy.
Image of Fuller from Wikipedia.

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