Use of Cuming epitaph ‘curious and questionable’

April 20, 2024

When our March 29 issue of The Concord Bridge arrived, I scanned the front page and noted with interest an article written by Betsy Levinson, Laurie O’Neill, and Celeste Katz Marston titled, “Emerson Scrubs 18th Century Doctor’s Name Over Slavery Ties.” For those who read the article, we learn that Emerson Hospital removed and changed the name of the John Cuming Building to the Emerson Hospital Medical Office Building after acknowledging that this Concord physician whom the building was named after was, in fact, a slave owner.  I say, Bravo!

Further on, an insert on page 11 titled, “Who Was John Cuming?” describes what is known about John Cuming from historical records — where he practiced medicine, his residence and activities.

The very last paragraph of this insert is both curious and questionable, making one wonder what the reporters and editors were thinking when they wrote:

“The epitaph of the doctor whose name was quietly removed from the major hospital of his hometown closes with a promise: ‘‘The Righteous shall be in everlasting Remembrance.’”

Wow — what on earth were these authors thinking by including that? The authors’ perspectives seem to be in direct contrast with what Emerson Hospital was trying to do — erase him from an association with them and infuriate anyone who feels that slavery was and is abhorrent. What is righteous about an enslaver? Is this what The Concord Bridge is endeavoring to accomplish? I say, deplorable!

Clary Bestor-Williams

Sudbury Road