Standing Our Ground and Transforming a City: Event and collecting area document history of housing and community activism in Boston

University Archives and Special Collections in the Healey Library at UMass Boston is publishing the below essay, written by Judy Branfman around 1989, to both announce the launch of new digital collection area and to promote Transforming a City: Honoring Boston’s Visionaries, an event being held on Saturday, October 19, that will bring people together from all over Boston to celebrate the lives and legacy of community activists Mel King and Chuck Turner.

Screenshot from the title screen for the Standing Our Ground slideshow

View the “Standing Our Ground” slideshow, narrative, and transcription.

 

The new digital collection area is inspired by (and named after) Standing Our Ground, the important slideshow that was directed by filmmaker Judy Branfman and produced by Branfman and UMass Boston Professor Emerita Marie Kennedy to explore Boston’s rich and creative history of neighborhood struggles over land control and development, and the growth of empowerment and local control. The only item in the collection at this point is the Standing Our Ground film, but we expect to post more materials to the site soon, including interviews, videos of public meetings, and other recordings from the 1970s and 1980s related to Tent City activism in Boston’s South End. Explore this digital collection area and view Standing Our Ground.

University Archives and Special Collections holds a range of materials that help to document the history of housing, community development, and land use and planning activism in Boston. This digital collection will provide researchers and community members with access to unique archival materials related to this history.



Standing Our Ground: Community Media and the History of Neighborhood Control of Development in Boston

Guest essay by Judy Branfman
Note: This essay about Standing Our Ground and Branfman’s work with the Coalition for Community Control of Development was originally written around 1989.

“You’ve got to fight or you don’t get anywhere. If you fight for something you believe is right, then fight for it! Don’t sit back and say, ‘Oh, I could have done it, but now it’s too late.’ You gotta do it. You can win or you can lose, but at least you tried.”
-Anna DeFronzo, East Boston community activist

Screenshot from the title screen for the Standing Our Ground slideshow

View the “Standing Our Ground” slideshow, narrative, and transcription.

For thousands of Boston residents – especially East Boston residents – Anna DeFronzo’s fighting spirit and history of activism have been an inspiration since the early 1960s (Anna DeFronzo died in 1998). At the same time that Anna and her neighbors were struggling to stop Logan Airport’s expansion into their East Boston neighborhoods, similar struggles were taking place in other parts of Boston, particularly where Urban Renewal plans were taking a heavy toll. In those areas as well, particularly the South End area, committed activists and creative struggles evolved and broke new ground for people in communities seeking to have some control in shaping their lives and surroundings.

The same issues that in the 1960s and ‘70s brought whole communities into the streets and meeting rooms – demolition of neighborhoods and destruction of communities, racism, the pursuit of community-based development, etc. – have continued, often in more sophisticated forms, to be crucial and largely unresolved issues for Boston residents. But through the years, activists from Boston’s many and extremely diverse neighborhoods have built on each other’s work. And over the last couple of years neighborhood activists and groups have begun to come together to share their knowledge and struggles – and attempt to develop strategies for working together on common issues. The Coalition for Community Control of Development (CCCD) is one outcome of this coming together – a growing coalition of over 25 neighborhood organizations from across the city. CCCD is working on both legislative and grassroots initiatives in order to strengthen the voices of Boston’s neighborhoods.

I became involved with CCCD in 1988 because of my interest in working with that broad coalition working to address community development issues. My experience working in the neighborhood group in my isolated and gentrifying area taught me that we could never fully accomplish our goals working on our own in deeply divided and politicized Boston. Also as an activist artist and educator, I had a strong interest in developing some kind of artistic collaboration that could further the community control work.

What emerged after several discussions was the idea of developing a slide show that would look at the past and present of the struggle for community control of development, drawing on the voices and stories of activists who had helped shape those struggles.

The project in part emerged out of – and merged with – a series of neighborhood oral histories being collected by Rainbow Coalition members and urban planner Marie Kennedy for a large historical exhibition honoring South End activist Mel King on his 60th birthday. The slide show process began with a letter that was sent out to more than 500 neighborhood groups and activists inviting their participation – and to date has involved artists with a variety of skills, planners, historians, educators, activists, and donations of numerous services.

Visual images are powerful and evocative tools, although they are often left behind by organizers and educators, often for understandable reasons. In the case of “Standing Our Ground,” the real strength, along with the organizing process itself, lies in the images combined with stories heard in the activists’ own voices.

The goals of the project have been: to develop a process, educational in itself, which would bring people together to share their stories (15 voices are heard in the show) and participate in developing the slide show; to pass on a history that in reality is little known – and that can be seen within the context of growing community empowerment; and to develop an educational program that raises relevant questions for use by CCCD and other groups and institutions. Another hope was to try and place land control struggles – and the idea of community development – within the realm of people’s everyday experience, and try and look at the relationship between the two.

As Chuck Turner, Director of the Center for Community Action in Roxbury, says in “Standing Our Ground,” “The question is, how does community development enhance human development? Does the building of a new structure necessarily contribute to people’s feeling a renewed confidence in their own ability and creative potential and future in their neighborhood?”

Note: This essay about Standing Our Ground and Branfman’s work with the Coalition for Community Control of Development was originally written around 1989.


 

Image of Mel King and Chuck Turner, used for eventLearn more about Transforming a City: Honoring Boston’s Visionaries, an event being held on Saturday, October 19, that will bring people together from all over Boston to celebrate the lives and legacy of Mel King and Chuck Turner. Reserve tickets here.



About Judy Branfman

Judy Branfman, Research Affiliate with the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, is a documentary filmmaker, activist, and independent scholar based in Los Angeles. She is working on a documentary, The Land of Orange Groves & Jails, and book on the precedent-setting court case, Stromberg v California. Since 1980 Judy has worked with non-profit organizations, cultural projects, labor unions, and municipalities doing outreach and education, media, and project development and coordination. She has taught Los Angeles history courses at UCLA – and produced large community-based events focusing on LA’s multi-ethnic, labor history.



University Archives and Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities.

University Archives and Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives and Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

Bookmark and Share

Betty Taymor papers now available for research

Letter from Hubert H. Humphrey to Betty Taymor, March 24, 1967

Letter from Hubert H. Humphrey to Betty Taymor, March 24, 1967

Guest post by Rachel Sherman, graduate student in UMass Boston’s History Department. Sherman processed this collection.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce that the papers of Betty Taymor are now processed and available for research. UASC’s recent acquisition of this collection reflects the university’s urban mission and strong support of community service.

Betty Taymor pioneered the path for women entering politics in Boston. This small collection of personal papers documents the activities of Betty Taymor during her democratic political career. The collection includes Taymor’s correspondence with political leaders including John F. Kennedy, Edward M. Kennedy, Michael Dukakis, and Jimmy Carter. It also includes manuscripts and scrapbooks featuring articles about Taymor’s political work.

Taymor served as a trailblazer for women entering community politics and public policy in the Greater Boston area. From her beginnings with volunteering for the Americans for Democratic Action to combat McCarthyism in the 1950s, to campaigning for both President John F. Kennedy and Senator Edward Kennedy in the 1960s, Taymor aimed to speak for the voices unheard. She established the Program for Women in Politics in 1968 at Simmons College. Over the subsequent two decades, the program developed into what is today the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy (CWPPP) at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Taymor’s legacy continues as the CWPPP serves to provide education and professional certification and experience for women leaders in politics. This collection sheds light on the political activities of women in Boston and helps document the history of the CWPPP at UMass Boston.

The timeline of the documents ranges from 1955 to 2009, with the bulk of the records dating from 1960 to 1994. The materials within the collection include correspondence such as letters, invitations, and telegrams between local, regional, and national democratic political members. Other documents include four scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, and photographs focusing on Betty Taymor’s political career and personal life.

Materials in this collection are now available for consultation in the Archives Research Room (Healey Library, 5th floor). View the finding aid for this collection here.

For questions about this collection or to schedule a research appointment, please contact library.archives@umb.edu or 617-287-5469.


University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

Bookmark and Share

Center for Law and Education: Morgan v. Hennigan case records now available

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce that the Center for Law and Education: Morgan v. Hennigan case records, 1950-1994, (bulk) 1964-1994, have been reprocessed and are fully available for research. View the finding aid for this collection here.

Center for Law and Education: Morgan v. Hennigan case records, Garrity correspondence, 1975

Center for Law and Education: Morgan v. Hennigan case records, Garrity correspondence, 1975

The records in this collection are the papers of the Center for Law and Education in the landmark Boston school desegregation case Morgan et al. v. Hennigan et al., 379 F. Supp. 410 (1974), a complex and legally entangled class action suit against the state of Massachusetts and the Boston School Committee. The center served as co-counsel for the plaintiffs. The complaint filed in the Massachusetts District Court charged that the state and Boston school officials were maintaining a segregated school system that denied black students equal educational opportunities. Materials include original complaints, motions, plaintiffs’ requests, defendants’ answers, correspondence, interrogatories, notices, briefs, student assignment plans, transportation notes, individual city-wide parent council zones, plaintiff and defendant exhibits, transcripts, reports, and newspaper clippings.

Center for Law and Education: Morgan v. Hennigan case records, NAACP correspondence, 1975

Center for Law and Education: Morgan v. Hennigan case records, NAACP correspondence, 1975

In 1969 the Center for Law and Education opened its doors as the Harvard Center for Law and Education. It was founded as part of a legal services program established by the Office of Economic Opportunity and Harvard’s schools of law and education. The center is one of a series of university-affiliated national centers. As an interdisciplinary research institute, the center’s mission is “to protect and advance the legal interests of the poor through research and action on the legal implications of educational policies, particularly those affecting equality of educational opportunity.” From 1969 to the present, the center has been a legal advocate for educational issues and has helped shape federal laws that govern school programs in order to improve educational outcomes, particularly for low-income students and communities.

View the finding aid for this collection here.

For questions about this collection or to schedule a research appointment, please contact library.archives@umb.edu or 617-287-5469.


University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

Bookmark and Share

Hyde Park Mass. Memories Road Show photographs and stories now online

The photographs, stories, and videos gathered at the Hyde Park Mass. Memories Road Show are available online now for research.

"When my aunt and my mom get together it is awesome to see their different ways of being and yet so much alike. They feed off each other and are the ties that bind our family together. My aunt loves to talk and my mother not as much and yet it’s the ying and yang that makes the rest of us smile. The love and life lessons run through us all. Much love Aunt Bonnie and mom. Pictured, from left to right: Boonie Booker and Carolyn Harrell. Contributor: Antoinette. Harrell.

The matriarchs, April 2016. “When my aunt and my mom get together it is awesome to see their different ways of being and yet so much alike. They feed off each other and are the ties that bind our family together. My aunt loves to talk and my mother not as much and yet it’s the ying and yang that makes the rest of us smile.” Pictured, from left to right: Boonie Booker and Carolyn Harrell. Contributor: Antoinette Harrell.

Held at the Hyde Park Municipal Building, or “Muni,” on May 14, 2016, the event was organized by the Friends of the Hyde Park Library and sponsored by the Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF) Hyde Park Community Center and Spin350 Creative. Over twenty local volunteers collaborated with a team of UMass Boston staff members and public history graduate students, as well as “Roadies” from past Mass. Memories Road Show events, to welcome more than 100 adults and children with connections to the Boston neighborhood.

Grandfather did the cooking (he's wearing the apron) and he is pouring his homebrew. Pictured, from left to right: my uncle Joe Whalen, my aunt Francis Whalen, my father's father John, uncle John, Darlene Vance, uncle Bob Voss, Jim Hennessey, my grandmother Anna Vance, my aunt Pauline Kominski, my aunt Sophie Sarno, and my father's cousin John Sarno. Location: Williams Avenue. Contributor: Robert Vance.

The party never stops–three-family gathering on Williams Avenue, 1950s. “Grandfather did the cooking (he’s wearing the apron) and he is pouring his home-brew. Pictured, from left to right: my uncle Joe Whalen, my aunt Francis Whalen, my father’s father John, uncle John, Darlene Vance, uncle Bob Voss, Jim Hennessey, my grandmother Anna Vance, my aunt Pauline Kominski, my aunt Sophie Sarno, and my father’s cousin John Sarno.” Contributor: Robert Vance.

Participants shared images of informal family gatherings such as birthday parties, weddings, and holiday celebrations. Community life in Hyde Park over the years is also well documented in the collection. Many individuals contributed photographs of themselves as students attending Most Precious Blood, Hyde Park High School, and other local schools. Others remembered coming together to play with neighbors and to participate in sports competitions, parades, and the creative arts.

New England Tel. "Working on Harvard Street switchboard in Hyde Park. Pictured, from left to right: teacher Mary Miles, Mary Hannon, Mary Lou Leary, and unidentified woman. Contributor: Mary Lou Greene.

New England Tel., 1949. “Working on Harvard Street switchboard in Hyde Park. Pictured, from left to right: teacher Mary Miles, Mary Hannon, Mary Lou Leary, and unidentified woman. Contributor: Mary Lou Greene.

Several photographs document men and women at work in local restaurants, banks, bakeries, convenience stores, and other family enterprises in the neighborhood.

We were asked to be the first family in Hyde Park to receive a single stream recycling bin. Liam was the first to use it. Pictured, from left to right: Rob Consalvo, Janice Kenney, Larry Kenney, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Ryleigh Kenney, and Liam Kenney. Contributor: Janice Kenney.

“In 2007, we were asked to be the first family in Hyde Park to receive a single stream recycling bin. Liam was the first to use it. Pictured, from left to right: Rob Consalvo, Janice Kenney, Larry Kenney, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Ryleigh Kenney, and Liam Kenney.” Contributor: Janice Kenney.

A number of individuals chose to preserve memories of their involvement in politics and community activism. Photographs document neighborhood residents running for elected office, saving the local public library, and cleaning up the Neponset River. Many people shared photographs of themselves taken with the late Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who was born in Hyde Park in the 1940s and lived there until his death in 2014.

Browse the Hyde Park Mass. Memories Road Show collection.


The Mass. Memories Road Show is a statewide digital history project that documents people, places and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. In partnership with teams of local volunteers, we organize public events to scan family and community photographs and videotape “the stories behind the photos.” The images and videos are indexed and incorporated into an online educational database. Since its launch, the project has gathered more than 9,000 photographs and stories from across the state. It is supported in part by the Patricia C. Flaherty ’81 Endowed Fund at UMass Boston.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston was established in 1981 as a repository to collect archival material in subject areas of interest to the university, as well as the records of the university itself. The mission and history of UMass Boston guide the collection policies of University Archives & Special Collections, with the university’s urban mission and strong support of community service reflected in the records of and related to urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, war and social consequence, and local history related to neighboring communities. To learn more, visit blogs.umb.edu/archives.

Bookmark and Share

Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive launch: Saturday, November 19, at the Boston Public Library

hiphoparchive_nov19draft1In celebration of Hip-Hop History Month, the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston and the Boston Public Library invite the public to the launch of the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive.

When: Saturday, November 19, 2016  |  12:00 to 5:00 pm

Where: Boston Public Library, Rabb Lecture Hall  |  700 Boylston Street., Boston, Mass. 02116

For more information and directions, visit www.bpl.org or RSVP on Facebook.

Browse the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive here.

This event is free and open to the public and will include:

  • Artist panels with legendary local hip-hop artists from the 1980s to the present, including members of first-generation Boston groups The Almighty RSO, Top Choice Clique, FTI Crew, and artists including Rusti Pendleton, Edo G, Akrobatik, Bay Holla, Professor Lyrical, among others;
  • Listening sessions where the public can hear unreleased demo tapes from the Lecco’s Lemma collection from artists like Guru (Keithy E.), The Almighty RSO, Top Choice Clique, FTI Crew, and many others;
  • Hip-Hop in black and white: A discussion of racism and appropriation in American popular music and hip-hop history hosted by local activist scholars and cultural historians Jamarhl Crawford and Reebee Garofalo;
  • Official launch of the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive and Lecco’s Lemma collection and thanks to donors Magnus Johnstone, Willie “Loco” Alexander, and Tony Rose.
mhha

Photo credit (on right): John Nordell

 

Visit blogs.umb.edu/archives and follow the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive on Twitter for updates.


University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

Bookmark and Share