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Arlington Celebrates Black History Month

Arlington Celebrates Black History Month Series kicks off with unveiling of new banners and virtual programming

Dear Arlington friends and neighbors,

The Arlington Human Rights Commission firmly believes Black history is everyone’s history and has planned a series of events in observance and celebration of Black History Month. We are unveiling 6 new banner designs, to be hung along Massachusetts Avenue in East Arlington. This is in addition to last year’s banners which will hang from Broadway Square to Town Hall. Images of the new banners are below with a short biography of the subjects highlighted.

Fighting for Social Justice, is the theme of the new banners, which were designed by East Arlington native, Rachel Domond. Co-sponsoring with the Arlington Commission on Arts and Culture, the AHRC selected Domond as part of a statewide call for artists. She is a self-taught artist now based in Roxbury, MA. Her art explores themes of land, anti-imperialism and sovereignty, pride in home, people power and liberation politics. She seeks inspiration from the relationship between Black women - namely, Haitian and Caribbean women - and the land, as well as the revolutionary motive of peoples' movements both in the U.S. and abroad in creating her pieces.

The Combahee River Collective was a Black feminist lesbian socialist organization active in Boston from 1974 to 1980. The Collective argued that both the white feminist movement and the Civil Rights Movement were not addressing their particular needs as Black women and, more specifically, as Black lesbians. The Collective are perhaps best known for developing the Combahee River Collective Statement, a key document in the history of contemporary Black feminism and the development of the concepts of identity politics as used among political organizers and social theorists.

Educator and activist Angela Davis (1944-) became known for her involvement in a politically charged murder case in the early 1970s. Influenced by her segregated upbringing in Birmingham, Alabama, Davis joined the Black Panthers and an all-black branch of the Communist Party as a young woman. She became a professor at UCLA, but fell out of favor with the administration due to her ties. Davis was charged with aiding the botched escape attempt of imprisoned black radical George Jackson, and served roughly 18 months in jail before her acquittal in 1972. After spending time traveling and lecturing, Davis returned to the classroom as a professor and authored several books. (Source:

Ella Josephine Baker (December 13, 1903 – December 13, 1986) was an African-American civil rights and human rights activist. She was a largely behind-the-scenes organizer whose career spanned more than five decades. In New York City and the South, she worked alongside some of the most noted civil rights leaders of the 20th century, including W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, and Martin Luther King Jr. She also mentored many emerging activists, such as Diane Nash, Stokely Carmichael, Rosa Parks, and Bob Moses, whom she first mentored as leaders in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

Marielle Franco (July 27,1979 – March 14, 2018) was a Brazilian politician, sociologist, feminist, socialist, and human rights activist. After earning a master's degree in public administration from the Fluminense Federal University, she served as a city councillor of the Municipal Chamber of Rio de Janeiro for the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) from January 2017 until her death.

On 14 March 2018, while in a car after delivering a speech, Franco and her driver were shot multiple times and killed by two murderers in another vehicle, north of Rio de Janeiro. Franco had been an outspoken critic of police brutality and extrajudicial killings,as well as the February 2018 federal intervention by Brazilian president Michel Temer in the state of Rio de Janeiro which resulted in the deployment of the army in police operations. In March 2019, two former police officers were arrested and charged with the murder of Marielle Franco.

Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson (1945-1992) was a Black trans woman who was a force behind the Stonewall Riots and surrounding activism that sparked a new phase of the LGBTQ+ movement in 1969. Along with Sylvia Rivera, she established the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) in 1970--a group committed to supporting transgender youth experiencing homelessness in New York City. Marsha P. Johnson was tragically murdered on July 6, 1992 at the age of forty-six. Her case was originally closed by the NYPD as an alleged suicide, but transgender activist Mariah Lopez fought for it to be reopened for investigation in 2012. Marsha P. Johnson is now one of the most venerated icons in LGBTQ+ history, has been celebrated in a series of books, documentaries, and films. (Source:

Suzanne Bélair, called Sanité Bélair, (1781 – 5 October 1802), was a female Haitian Freedom fighter and revolutionary, lieutenant in the army of Toussaint Louverture.

Born an affranchi in Verrettes, Haiti, she married Brigade commander and later General Charles Bélair in 1796. She was an active participant in the Haitian Revolution, became a sergeant and later a lieutenant during the conflict with French troops of the Saint-Domingue expedition.

In addition to the banners, the Arlington Human Rights Commission will hold a series of virtual events including:

  • Meet the Artist with Rachel Domond

  • Black History Month Read-Aloud with Arlington Public Schools

  • Real Talk about Race: Having Difficult Conversations webinar

We hope you'll join us for these upcoming programs.

Arlington values equity, diversity, and inclusion. We are committed to building a community where everyone is heard, respected, and protected.

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Phone: 781-316-3250

By Mail: 27 Maple Street

Arlington, MA 02476


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