Arlington Observes Black History Month by Celebrating Black Business Through History
Dear Arlington friends and neighbors,
Did you know that the oldest Black-owned business in the entire county was started by a conductor on the Underground Railroad? Or that one of the first Black pharmacists is from New England and had thriving drugstores in New Bedford and Boston?
New England has a rich history of black entrepreneurship and business. From the first organization dedicated to supporting black businesses, started by Booker T. Washington, to one of the first Black newspapers, started in Boston by William Trotter, the town of Arlington is celebrating the achievements of black business owners and entrepreneurs this February as part of their Black History Month Banner Contest.
A call to artists of color went out to design banners highlighting black entrepreneurship and business. We asked that 6 triangular banners be designed and shaped to go on the town’s light poles.
We are excited to announce that Remi Antunes and Malik Harding are our winners!!!
Remi Antunes a 10-year-old activist, athlete, musician and business owner from Medford, MA. Remi has been an advocate for many injustices since a very young age. She knows, from a firsthand perspective, the need for equity and understanding. In 2020, she and her brother started a business called Speak Our Peace where they create hand drawn clothing designs that speak to social justice, unity and peace. Speak Our Peace was featured in the Harvard Gazette, and their apparel is sold in local stores in Arlington and Cambridge. A portion of the proceeds have been donated to youth homeless shelters in Boston. Remi was selected as a recipient of the LaCroix Sparkling Star Scholarship, which is given to young people who have a strong passion for giving back, helping others, and leading with kindness. Remi and Malik have also co-founded the Fayerweather Sun, a school newsletter produced monthly that is a collection of articles, poems, facts, and other submissions written by students addressing topics of activism. Remi cares deeply about making the world a better place and hopes to help create awareness about topics that will work towards that. In her spare time, she loves to read, play sports, explore outside, and play with her brother.
Malik Harding is a 10-year old artist, activist, and game inventor from Medford, MA. Malik cares deeply about nature, animals, and creating a better world. He is the co-founder of his school’s Activism Club. More recently, he and Remi started a newsletter for their school focused on social and environmental justice. They collect articles from other students and write, design, and publish the newsletter monthly. Malik has been passionate about art and design from a very young age. He expresses himself through his art that ranges from landscape painting, to animation, to portraits, and abstract art. In 2020 he developed and designed a card game called “Taco Chef” that he sold at local gift shops. He donated 20% of proceeds to the World Wildlife Fund. Malik was asked by WWF to be featured on their “Ask-a-Scientist” show where he interviewed chief scientist Rebecca Shaw. In 2021 Malik was featured on WCVB Channel 5 News for his art and game. That summer, he was also able to have a solo art exhibit at Colleen’s Ice Cream in Medford. Malik continues to explore all sorts of different media from writing, to design, to video, to animation while finding ways he can be an activist and leader in his communities.
From the Artists:
"Our designs feature five banners that show very influential and historic Black business people from the 18th and 19th centuries, a time when slavery was just ending. These leaders helped make it possible for other Black people to start businesses, which was something that was not easy to do especially in the 18th and 19th centuries.
We collaborated and came up with the designs together. We started with doing research to find influential Black people from Boston that were also business owners and revolutionaries. We decided on our leaders, which are William Monroe Trotter, Eliza Ann Gardner, Robert Carter, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, and Prince Hall. Malik drew each of their portraits using historical photos we found. Remi drew some of the words as well as the images representing their business connection in the background. Malik used backgrounds of ink paintings he has made behind each person to give each person a color that works for them. Then we used the icons for each business in the backgrounds with the ink paintings to show each business. For our last banner we focused on the message that ties all of these leaders togethers: “Black Business is Trailblazing”.
As young, Black leaders, we believe that being a part of the movement toward peace, justice and freedom inspires others to do the same. We know that we can create paths for other young leaders from all different backgrounds while helping our communities. Being a leader does not only take courage, it also takes passion, creativity, persistence, perseverance, and most of all, believing in the one and only, YOU."
In addition to these new banners, past years’ winners will have their banners displayed again for this town-wide observance that will culminate in an artist talk and black-owned pop-up market for the public at the end of the month. Location to be announced.
For more information go to www.artsarlington.org, or contact:
Crystal Haynes, Project Founder, Volunteer for Arlington Human Rights Commission
Cecily Miller, Arlington Arts Commission
Arlington values equity, diversity, and inclusion. We are committed to building a community where everyone is heard, respected, and protected.
By Mail: 27 Maple Street
Arlington, MA 02476