Nantucket: Rock of Changes
Documentary that tells the story of Nantucket's African-American community and one of the nation's first battles for school integration. The program crafts a portrait of Nantucket's Pre-Civil War whaling community and the tiny schoolhouse that represented the vision of the black community, and came to symbolize the struggle for civil rights.
Captain Absalom Boston, the owner and captain of an all-African-American whaling ship, established the African Meeting House in the early 1820s with other activists in the black community. The building represented their belief in the ideals of the new American republic and was the heart of their community, serving as both school and church. When the battle for integration erupted 20 years later, Boston and his allies, some former slaves, saw it as the unfinished business of the American revolution. Another central player was Anna Gardner, a liberal abolitionist Quaker who instructed the 50 students at the African Meeting House. When Gardner's star pupil, 17-year-old Eunice Rice, was denied entry to the island's only high school, Gardner joined forces with other island women -- black and white -- to break the segregation. In 1845, Absalom Boston and more than 100 African-American Nantucketers petitioned the Massachusetts legislature for equal education -- and succeeded.