The Afterlife of Slavery, South Boston High School, and Mosaic

Black and white photograph shows young person with arms up in snow in front of large brick building

Photograph from the 1987 issue of Mosaic shows a young boy playing outside of a school in South Boston. The picture was take by South Boston High School student and photographer Tammy Lambright.

Author: Kayla Allen, Archives Assistant and graduate student in the History MA Program at UMass Boston

Black and white photographs shows eight students on the steps of a brick school building

This photograph, taken by South Boston High School student and photographer Lorna Reid for the 1987 issue of Mosaic, features a high schooler playing on the steps of SBHS.

Juneteenth is coming up this Saturday, June 19th. It is a holiday that celebrates the true end to slavery in the United States (specifically in Galveston, Texas) in 1865, about two and a half years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. As I write this post, not only have the Senate and House both voted in favor of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, but President Biden has signed it into law. This holiday is about joy, hope, and love; it is a happy day, and we will be celebrating!

Still, we are in a period of turmoil in the United States, perhaps as we have been for centuries. Slavery has had a long-lasting impact on our communities. Generational trauma, poverty, and discriminatory policing are just some of the lingering effects of slavery that we continue to deal with every day. In the spirit of Juneteenth, people all over the country are working tirelessly to make things better for the Black community and to address these symptoms of a pandemic long since “over.” One of the most important things we can do is love and support Black youth, especially in their pursuit of an education. There is still no end in sight to the racial segregation of schools in our cities. Black students are disproportionately living in poverty and attending schools that are underserved and under-resourced.

Black and white photographs shows the photographer holding a camera, taking his own picture in a mirror.

Self-portrait of Anthony Adams, student and photographer at South Boston High School, taken for the 1987 issue of Mosaic.

In Boston in the 1970s, there was a contentious, court-ordered process of desegregating the city’s public schools overseen by Judge W. Arthur Garrity. This was in an effort to address some of the after-effects of slavery and follow through with a desegregation ruling that had passed a decade before. Unfortunately but expectedly, this caused an immense number of problems. There was a large presence of white Bostonians that desperately wanted integration to fail. In addition, many students, especially high schoolers, did not want to go to a new school and ended up dropping out. It was a tumultuous, violent, and traumatic time, especially at schools like South Boston High School (SBHS).

Black and white photographs shows students seated on a schoolbus and the schoolbus emergency exit sign.

Here, South Boston High School student and photographer Bethzaida Rivera took a picture of students in the back of an SBHS school bus for the 1987 issue of Mosaic.

In an effort to support their young people and help them heal, Harvard undergraduate Michael Tierney and several of his colleagues at South Boston High created a publication called Mosaic. It started out in 1980 as a book of poetry written by SBHS students and edited by poet-in-residence Kate Rushin. Over the next decade, it morphed and changed to fit the needs of the students. It was a way for these high schoolers to become invested in their community and get to know their peers. They wanted to learn and grow and find ways to overcome the negative reputation that SBHS had picked up during the violence of the “busing crisis.” With the guidance of professionals like Michael and Kate, South Boston High School students created something truly special. They learned about poetry, interviewing, writing, and photography. They created exhibits of their work. After the final issue was published in 1988, they even brought their photographs and stories to be displayed at the Boston Public Library. In Mosaic, there was sadness and trauma, but there was also healing. It brought some much-needed hope to the SBHS community.

University Archives and Special Collections at UMass Boston has digitized the full collection of Mosaic publications (view the finding aid). Going through them is at once moving and sweet. It’s something precious to look at the work of young students discovering their voices and learning that their stories are worth sharing. 

In honor of Juneteenth and our fight for equity and liberation, I’ve selected a few pages for you to look at from the 1987 Mosaic publication Knowing the Light Will Come: Stories and Photographs by Students at South Boston High. If anything catches your eye, be sure to explore the rest of the digital collection.

If you’d like to learn more about the afterlife of slavery, a term coined by Saidiya Hartman, and its impact on our country today, there are many incredible resources out there for you to check out. This page from UC Berkeley is just one of the assets I’ve found in my research. The Atlantic also has a moving article about the Boston desegregation of schools in the 70s and its legacy, and graduate students from UMass Boston’s History and American Studies department put together some wonderful articles as well.


From the author: Personal dedication to the students at the Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Exploring Connemara, New England, and the Irish Language

Flyer listing information about this event.On Saturday, April 17, the Healey Library at UMass Boston hosted the virtual event “Connemara, New England, and the Irish Language: Living Stories that Connect Us” celebrating the “Boston and the Irish Language” oral history project.

The event featured Máirtín Ó Catháin from the Emigrants Commemorative Centre Carna, Michael Connolly from the Maine Irish Heritage Center, and Seán Ó Coistealbha from Muintearas, together with panelists Natasha Sumner, Gregory Darwin, and Brian Frykenberg. The event was made possible by Cumann na Gaeilge i mBoston (The Irish Language Society of Boston), Mass Humanities, the Éire Society of Boston, and the Emigrant Support Programme of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland.

Event Recording

 

Additional Resources and Links

Download the participant chat from the virtual event.

Cumann na Gaeilge i mBoston (The Irish Language Society of Boston) offers online language classes. For more information and to register, visit cumann-na-gaeilge.org/class-registration/

Ár dTeanga Féin out of Worcester, Massachusetts, offers Zoom classes for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students if numbers allow. Email info@adtf.org or visit adtf.org/ for more information.

The South Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library has a small collection of books in Irish donated by Údaras na Gaeltachta. While they’re not open for browsing currently, please contact Jane or Kathleen at 617-268-0180 or email Branch Librarian Jane Bickford at southboston@bpl.org for assistance.

Nuacht TG4 ran a news piece about the event. Click here to view the piece on Facebook.

Máirtín Ó Catháin wrote this article about the event and collection for an Irish-language blog: “Glórtha agus Gaeilge mhuintir Chonamara curtha i dtaisce in Ollscoil Massachusetts.”

Learn More and Connect

If you have questions about getting involved or taking part in an oral history interview, email Project Coordinator Brian Frykenberg: frykenberg@comcast.net.

The Boston and the Irish Language project investigates the unique importance of Irish in forming persistent bonds among and between Connemara emigrants living in Boston with their families and communities in Ireland through recorded personal interviews. The project is sponsored by Cumann na Gaeilge i mBoston (The Irish Language Society of Boston) and supported by a Mass Humanities project grant and the Emigrant Support Programme of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland. Topics explored include: upbringing through the Irish language, economic and social conditions in Ireland, reasons for emigration or return, adaptation to and participation in life within the United States, changes experienced since arrival, and current use of Irish. The oral histories collected as part of this project are part of the digital collections of University Archives and Special Collections in the Healey Library at UMass Boston. Explore the collection.


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.

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Plymouth Mass. Memories Road Show images and stories available for research

Authors: Carolyn Goldstein, Public History and Community Archives Program Manager and Kayla Allen, Graduate Assistant

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

My three at the Cranberry Festival

My three at the Cranberry Festival, 2015. ‘My kids love this event. We went for several years. I love this photo because it is just so quintessential Southeastern Massachusetts. Pictured, from left to right: Zachary Burrey, Olivia Burrey, and Eliza Burrey. Location: A.D. Makepeace Company.’ Contributor: Julie Burrey.

 

Hosted by the Plymouth Public Library on Saturday, November 9, 2019, the event was coordinated by the library in cooperation with the Plymouth County Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Plymouth County Commissioners. Additional partners included the Plymouth Antiquarian Society, Pilgrim Hall Museum, Town of Plymouth Archivist, Destination Plymouth, Plymouth 400, and Plymouth Access TV. More than two dozen local volunteers—many from Plymouth 400—joined a team of UMass Boston staff members, graduate students in public history and archives, and “Roadies” to welcome over 100 adults and children with connections to the coastal town located south of Boston.

 

First woman worker, Quincy shipyard

First woman worker, Quincy shipyard, early 1940s. ‘Verna May Harding was born in 1905 on the Herring Pond Tribal Reservation lands in what is now called Bournedale and Cedarville in Plymouth. She lived there her entire life of 89 years. Along with her sister Phyllis and other female Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribal cousins, she was one of the first women to even work at the Quincy shipyard, right alongside the men. This is her Quincy shipyard photograph. Pictured: Verna May Harding.’ Contributor: Melissa Ferretti.

 

Contributors shared photographs and stories from the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, the original inhabitants of modern-day Plymouth, as well as from families descended from colonial settlers who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620.  A number of community members contributed photographs and stories chronicling their immigrant heritage, including accounts of personal and family connections to Italy, Russia, and the Azores among other countries. Many of these materials provide evidence of religious and cultural organizations established by these cultural groups in Plymouth beginning in the late 19th century.

Columbus Day 1934

Columbus Day parade, 1934. ‘During the depths of the Great Depression the community tried to present events which would help morale and keep up spirits. This parade, as far as I know, was the only time it was organized for this holiday. Much of the planning and execution were undertaken under the auspices of the Italian social clubs which were based in North Plymouth. The picture shows the submission from the appropriately-named Cristoforo Colombo Club.’ Contributor: Enzo Monti.

 

Several contributors shared memories of their experiences at work in Plymouth and the surrounding area. They submitted photographs and stories of themselves and their ancestors on the job on farms, in family businesses such as butcher shops and restaurants, in libraries and historical societies and even in the local Quincy shipyard.

Cordage Terrace 1941 Plymouth

Cordage Terrace 1941 Plymouth. ‘They are my grandfather and grandmother Santos. They are from the island of San Miguel in the Azores. Manuel was a butcher, farmer, and mailman. He had a butcher shop in Plymouth with his cousin Red Wing. They made Portuguese sausages—linguica, chorizo, blood sausage, and head cheese. My grandmother’s father was chief of police on the island. Pictured, from left to right: my grandmother Mary Santos and my grandfather Manuel Santos.’ Contributor: Dennis Soares.

 

To document connections to the public memory of the arrival of Pilgrims from England in 1620, many contributors brought photographs of visits to landmarks such as Plymouth Rock or attendance at commemorative events such as the arrival of the Mayflower II in 1957 and the annual Pilgrim Progress reenactment. Still other participants recounted participation in the town’s emergence as a famous tourist attraction in the late 20th century including interpreting and learning about 17th-century life at the Plimoth Plantation museum (now Plimoth Patuxet) and planning the 400th anniversary of the pilgrim landing.

The crew that rowed the Shallop ashore, 1957

‘The crew that rowed the Shallop ashore, 1957. After weeks of training, my father along with friends and six of his family members rowed out to meet the Mayflower II when she sailed from Plymouth, England and arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Pictured, from back to front, left to right: Benjamin Brewster, Lothrop Withington, Jr., Paul Withington, William Stearns, Jr., United States Vice President Richard Nixon, George Davis, Russell Fry, Jr., Russell Coffin, Robert Briggs, and Spencer Brewster.’ Contributor: Russell Fry.

 

Colonial camp at Harlow House

‘Colonial camp at Harlow House, 1990s. I’ve been a history nerd since the beginning. While other kids dreamed about space camp, I was thrilled to attend “Colonial Camp.” I churned butter, learned how to work a loom, and made my own tussie mussie. Plymouth is a wonderful place for a history-lover to grow up!’ Contributor: Sarah (Mathews) Collins.

 

Event participants also shared memories of enjoying the natural environment in Plymouth and the surrounding area with family and friends, contributing photographs and stories of such favorite local places as beaches, parks, and cranberry bogs. Still other individuals aimed to remember their families and communities with images of weddings, anniversaries, family gatherings and trips, school activities, local organizations, and everyday life in the town.

Backyard chicken coop

Backyard chicken coop, 2009. ‘An experiment one summer—we helped a neighbor raise the little peeps to become hearty. Pictured, from left to right: my children Anna Bishop, Madeleine Bishop, and Charles Bishop. Location: Ellisville.’ Contributor: Maria Bishop.

Browse the Plymouth Mass. Memories Road Show collection.


The Mass. Memories Road Show is a statewide, event-based participatory archiving program 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 12,000 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.

 

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Fall 2020 issue of New England Journal of Public Policy available on ScholarWorks

Cover of the Fall 2020 issue of the New England Journal of Public PolicyThe most recent issue of the New England Journal of Public Policy is now available on ScholarWorks, the open access repository for scholarship and research at UMass Boston.

Describing this issue of the New England Journal of Public Policy, founding editor Padraig O’Malley writes: “Other than ‘The Troubled Backstory of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment,’ articles in this issue of the journal have their origins in presentations at the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflicts conference at Oxford University, September 2019, which addressed themes arising from dual anniversaries—the 150th birthday anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the 140th birthday anniversary of Albert Einstein. The presentations covered a wide and disparate geographical spread—with authors from Singapore, Australia, Turkey, the United States, Syria, the United Kingdom, and Belgium, and articles covering Myanmar, Japan, Australia, Turkey and Syria and Europe.”

The New England Journal of Public Policy has been published since 1985 by the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. After folding in 2006 due to financial constraints, the New England Journal of Public Policy resumed publication in 2013 as an online open access journal. Full issues of the entire run of the New England Journal of Public Policy are available on ScholarWorks at UMass Boston, which is managed out of the Joseph P. Healey Library.

Apart from the editor’s note by O’Malley, who is also the John Joseph Moakley Distinguished Professor of Peace and Reconciliation at UMass Boston, this issue includes:

To view the full issue, and to explore past issues of this publication, click here.


ScholarWorks is the University of Massachusetts Boston’s online open access institutional repository for scholarship and research. ScholarWorks serves as a publishing platform, a preservation service, and a showcase for the research and scholarly output of members of the UMass Boston community. ScholarWorks is a service of the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston.

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Digital collection now available: Stephen Lewis poster collection

This gallery contains 3 photos.

University Archives and Special Collections (UASC) in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce that more than 500 activist posters from the Stephen Lewis poster collection, circa 1921-2017 are digitized and available online. UASC has been working with Stephen Lewis to digitize more than 3,000 posters through […]

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