Roxbury Memory Trail Physical Trail Markers

The Roxbury Memory Trail Project (RMTP) seeks to create a pair of markers that will memorialize two events that were pivotal in the history of the Roxbury Community.

Recalling for some and introducing others to powerful local forces of change that captured the turbulent energy of the 1960s. Each monument will mark a site of initial transformation while recalling the circumstances that precipitated change. Each marker will remind all who encounter it of the will to freedom and the deep desire of communities to improve the opportunities for each succeeding generation. It is this broad framework of memory and remembrance, of hope and aspiration, that propelled this undertaking that, more than four decades after the events, proposes to honor the spirit of growth and change in Roxbury.

I) A Day of Awakening

This monument will mark the site of a demonstration by the Mothers for Adequate Welfare that took place June 2, 1967, at the Grove Hall office of the Overseers of Public Welfare, and that devolved into two days of rioting when police dramatically over reacted and pushed supporters of the mothers into becoming defenders of their right to protest. Though provided with a list of demands, the primary goal of the Welfare Mothers was to speak directly with the Executive Director of the Public Welfare office. The monument will take the form of an obelisk that bears text recalling the riot, and which is surrounded by circular seating on which additional text appears. Text is taken from contemporary sources, eye-witnesses, and journalistic and poetic sources.

II) Gateway to a Dream

In this case, the marker memorializes the site where Roxbury Community College first opened in l973. The founding of RCC was a crowning achievement for Roxbury activists who believed that their community should have an easily accessible community college that could address its educational needs and aspirations.

The form of the monument is a column surmounted by an open book, and whose sides bear the insignia of the college along with texts further expressing the ambition and high hopes that RCC represents.

The RCC ( Roxbury Community College )Founding Marker will be Barre Granite marker base, with matching granite paving in a rectangular area surrounding the marker and solar bollards. The top of the marker will have an open bronze book symbolizing education and two bronze disk insets will have the RCC seal on the sides. The end faces of the marker will be rusticated and the surfaces with the seals will be smooth or polished surfaces. The details of the date of founding will be sandblasted into the paving surfaces and the words Roxbury Community College Founding will be on the vertical marker.

Historic Site Markers

Two pedestrian and hp accessible at sidewalk grade, sculptural markers with supporting site improvements of solar lighting, decorative granite and repaired concrete paving, with planting in one of the two locations. The trail markers in three dimensional form are located in wider sidewalk areas will have granite and bronze elements with inscriptions on the markers, in the decorative paving, and in the case of the MAW ( Mothers For Adequate Welfare)marker, inscription in a seat wall that can be seen from the street. Lighting will consist of solar bollards and potential flood lights, using photo sensor switches, with cut off anti glare screens to highlight the tops of the markers, mounted on nearby City of Boston Street Lights. Preliminary conversations with Boston Lighting Dept. indicates this is likely feasible.

Barre Granite marker bases and matching granite paving, seat wall, and ivy planter edge. Two central elements will have bronze embedment’s. At the MAW site at Mother Caroline there will be a bronze pyramid top to the oblesik with sculptural patterning. The sides of the obelisk will have gold leafed small circles and ribbons which are sandblasted into the surface of the obelisk base. The ribbons are planned to continue onto the obelisk base and extend into the granite paving area bounded by the granite seat wall and the ivy planter at the base of the hp ramp going up into the school entrance. Hardy Baltic Ivy will be used to provide a vegetative back drop to emphasize the central obelisk feature, representing the Welfare Mother’s successful protest for Welfare rights and social justice in 1967.

RMTP has moved forward by harnessing the community spirit of residents and others with a demonstrated interest in Roxbury—especially Grove Hall—many of whom remember first-hand the founding of Roxbury Community College (RCC) and the Welfare Mother’s Riot. That spirit has shaped these permanent public remembrances. In order to give expressive form to the remembrances, the project engaged Tristan Govignon, an artist who has executed many projects in Boston. Govignon, in consultation with others including Edmund Barry Gaither, Director of the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, developed concepts for the markers and through a series of iterative sessions, those concepts were refined and made more articulate. Further refinements continue.