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Historic walking tour in Amherst highlights Black, Indigenous families

A walking tour in Amherst, Massachusetts, featuring historic sites of the town's first Black and Indigenous families kicked off this past weekend in celebration of Juneteenth.

Anika Lopes, founder of the tour, said she wants to connect residents of color with their history. Black residents make up 5% of the population in Amherst while white residents make up 73% of the population, according recent Census data.

"You have young Black youth that walk around Amherst, numerous town buildings and do not see a representation of themselves," Lopes said. "They do not know that there is Black history in Amherst and just exposing them to that immediately is life changing."

Lopes' organization, Ancestral Bridges, has made the Amherst tour available to view virtually on its website.

Lopes said she wanted to launch the tour during Juneteenth weekend because some Black military soldiers, buried in West Cemetery in Amherst, traveled to Texas in 1865 to deliver the order that freed 250,000 enslaved Black people.

Lopes is working on extending the tour beyond Juneteenth weekend.

Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America.