Black Women Lead March

Banners of 212 Black women leaders are lining lamp posts for two miles along Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury. This is the largest public art project in Boston’s history. In celebration of Women’s History Month, people from the community gathered on March 9th to honor these women. Among the women featured on the banners are Margaret Burnham, first African American woman judge in Massachusetts and University Distinguished Professor, Northeastern School of Law, and De Ama Battle, renowned dancer and choreographer also honored in our project Black Artists of Boston.

The celebration began with a mile-long march along Blue Hill Avenue; participants took turns shouting out the names of the women on the banners, followed by the crowd behind echoing the phrase, “A Black woman who led!” Along the march route, the group paused to watch the performances of young cheerleaders from the Neighborhood House Charter School.

The march ended at the Thelma D. Burns building on Warren Street (named after community activist Thelma Burns also honored on the banners along Blue Hill Avenue). Replicas of the portraits from the banners decorated a large gathering space. Marchers, community members and some of the women honored on the banners and their families gathered for a celebration that included moving speeches by organizers, honorees, and community leaders as well as lively performances of poetry, music, and dance. Many people took photos of and with the banners. Some were enthusiastically filling out cards with the question, “Who are the Black women who lead in your life?”

The event opened up with a grounding practice that invited the audience to repeat affirmations. Young girls eagerly repeated the words “I am free. I am a presence. I am enough,” led by Dzidzor Azaglo. The event featured the voices of Ed Gaskin, founder of the Black Women Lead Project and Executive Director of Grove Hall Main Streets, Jessica Reynoso, organizer of the event, and many other speakers. Old friends embraced as they reunited, and admired the performances while enjoying the refreshments catered by Everybody Gotta Eat. Reckonings Multimedia Editor Co-op Jeta Perjuci shot and edited a highlight video of the march and celebration.

The event and the public art project along Blue Hill aim to recognize Black women leaders who helped shape Boston and inspire members of the community. This was certainly the case during the march and program on the Saturday morning of March 9th. Join us in celebrating the black women who have contributed and shaped Boston.

Who are the Black women who lead in your life?

The project and march are a collaboration between Grove Hall Main Streets, Reckonings Project, Northeastern University Archives, and Northeastern City and Community Affairs. You can find out more about the Black Women Lead Project here.