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Cambridge Streets To Be Renamed After 2 African-American Women With Ties To The City And Suffrage Movement

The Cambridge City Council on Monday voted to rename two streets to honor prominent African-American women with ties to Cambridge who were involved in the suffrage movement.

The council voted 8-0-1 to rename North Street as Jacobs Street to honor abolitionist, author, women's rights advocate and educator Harriet Jacobs, who lived on Story Street in Cambridge from about 1868 until her 1897 death and is buried in Mt. Auburn Cemetery.

At the same time, the council approved renaming North Point Boulevard as Morgan Avenue to honor Gertrude Wright Morgan, who was involved in the Niagara Movement and the establishment of the NAACP. She and her husband hosted prominent civil rights leaders at their Prospect Street home in Cambridge, according to the city's public works department.

Harriet Jacobs in 1894. (Courtesy Jean Fagan Yellin)
Harriet Jacobs in 1894. (Courtesy Jean Fagan Yellin)

"A lot of people didn't know about my great great aunt Gertrude as my family had been trying for years to talk about her," Jim Spencer, a Cambridge resident and the great, great-nephew of Gertrude Wright Morgan, said in a statement. "So now she is no longer an unsung hero. She's somebody having a street named after her at Cambridge Crossing and her family is so proud."

Only one city councilor was absent for the vote on the street name changes, according to city council records — former Rep. Tim Toomey, who lost his seat in the House to fellow Democrat Mike Connolly in 2016.

"The naming of these streets builds on the opportunity to further the City's continued approach of naming streets and parks after historical women, as we've done with Julia Child and Amelia Earhart," Cambridge City Manager Louis DePasquale said. "We worked closely with the Historical Commission to identify individuals that played an important role in women's suffrage and we are proud to keep their legacies alive."

The renamed streets are part of Cambridge Crossing, which developers described as a "43-acre, 4.5 million square foot mixed-use, transit-rich neighborhood situated at the intersection of Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston."

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