This year, a new Black History Month banner at City Hall includes a diverse group of important Black history makers. The new banner, which features Malcolm X, Angela Davis and Nelson Mandela among others, was the result of recent discussions by the city’s Human Rights Commission. Commission Vice-Chair Chai Hossaini did much of the research to select the Black leaders featured on the banner.
Commission Chair Janine Grillo Marra said that last year the newly reactivated Human Rights Commission was not ready to make a recommendation for a new Black History Month banner for the city. Grillo Marra praised the banner that was used last year, which featured a photo and quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but said the Human Rights Commission discussed ways to depict multiple figures from Black history.
“Vice Chair Chai Hossaini and I met and talked about the Black History banner, and that it was still worth making a recommendation to the Mayor’s Office to update the banner,” said Grillo Marra. “I did go back over our minutes from last year, and the group did discuss and agree that going forward, it would be worthwhile to have multiple figures, so we felt it was appropriate to proceed.” Grillo Marra also noted that Jackie McLaughlin from Mayor Brian Arrigo’s office helped the commission design the banner.
Dr. Maritsa Barros, the new director of the Human Rights Commission, said the figures depicted on the banner will be featured on the city’s social media pages, where there will be information about their stories and history. Barros added that the city also has some other programs planned for Black History Month this February. “February is a month to celebrate and highlight Black history, but we will be raising awareness and celebrating year round,” said Barros. “I am excited about the small doses and ways we can engage during this specific month to celebrate Black history.”
This month, Barros said, the Revere Public Library and the public school libraries are teaming up for a Black History Month expression contest. “We’re looking for our youth to express in any way, whether through poetry or video recordings or drawings or short stories, to create an expressive piece that represents Black history,” said Barros. Additional information about the contest and prizes for the top submissions will be available on the city’s social media pages, Barros said.
The Human Rights Commission is also partnering with the public library, both online and in the building, to feature authors for Black History Month that are appropriate for middle school, high school and adult age groups.
“We’re trying to encourage and start these conversations at all levels,” said Barros.
Commission member Rev. Timothy Bogertman said he’s excited to see the different ways the city is celebrating Black History Month.