Expanding the Work

1990 was the first of our summer day-long outdoor Multi-cultural festivals, held for several years on the grounds of the Roxbury Community College. The theme for that first festival was, “This Land Is Our Land”. Community groups were invited to set up tables to distribute materials. A variety of foods were sold by a range of ethnic groups. Featured presenters included a Filipino Dance Troupe, Native American drummers, a Dorchester RAP group, Irish music, a gospel choir, Haitian Folk songs in Creole and French, and a Latina folk soloist. In the next years our festivals included a wide range of groups in the city, always with a political theme. This yearly event finally outgrew us, too big for our small staff, and superseded by an increasing number of community-centered festivals.

One result of the festivals was to convince us to find ways to use the good space and facilities at Roxbury Community College. Professor David Coleman and Ed Williams helped us sponsor a two-day “community arts forum” at the College. Anti-racist themes and activities engaged local artists and children in creating art; Ossie Davis spoke at a public gathering, and poet Ted Thomas led us all in a “re-dedication” of John Wilson’s marvelous sculpture which graces the campus. It is a moving statue of a black man reading to a child, and Ted wrote a beautiful poem about it.

The list of groups performing in that first festival reflects the recognition which had been growing for years, that our work must focus on racism as it has affected a wide range of ethnic/racial groups, in addition to black Americans.

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