Black Entrepreneurs of the 18th & 19th Centuries (2009)

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This exhibition installation in Second Life was commissioned by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, as a component of the multi-site exhibition, Black Entrepreneurs of the 18th & 19th Centuries.

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The exhibition had elements in the exhibition gallery at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (photos below), and the Museum of African American History, Boston.

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The Second Life installation is designed to create an immersive experience for the visitor-via-avatar, rather than replicate the First Life exhibitions. Melita Podesta, Exhibitions Coordinator at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, collaborated on the Second Life installation, selecting the materials to be presented and helping to shape the treatment.

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This exhibition focuses on enterprising black entrepreneurs of the 18th and 19th centuries in New England. Since the Colonial era African Americans have contributed to the economic development of this country. They have engaged in small-scale and large-scale commercial enterprises—ranging from home-based businesses and small shops to regional, national, and international companies.

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Like their European American counterparts, African Americans have developed products, selected markets, created economic networks, invested strategically, and sought to balance risks and rewards, costs and profits.

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In America blacks built on African economic traditions in the context of the New World economy. Many had participated as producers, brokers, traders, and merchants in the complex market economies of West and Central Africa before their involuntary arrival on American shores.

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Blacks seized opportunities to create enterprises

and to participate in the commercial life of a developing nation. Despite challenges posed by slavery and racism, African Americans’ entrepreneurial activity has been sustained in America for almost five centuries from the agrarian economy of the seventeenth century to the contemporary post-industrial economy.


Black Entrepreneurs of the 18th and 19th Centuries opened on February 25, 2009 in Second Life and at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and in early March 2009 at the Museum of African American History, on Beacon Hill.

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