2017 spot­lights na­tion’s civil rights mile­stones

Dorchester Star - - FRONT PAGE - By VIC­TO­RIA WINGATE vwingate@ches­pub.com

CAMBRIDGE — The Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Vis­i­tor Cen­ter will host its grand open­ing on Satur­day, March 11, but Tub­man’s civil rights con­tri­bu­tion won’t be the only one re­ceiv­ing spe­cial recog­ni­tion in Cambridge in 2017.

This year will also mark the 50th an­niver­sary of the height of the civil rights move­ment in Cambridge, an an­niver­sary which will be rec­og­nized by a four day event – Re­flec­tions on Pine: Cambridge Com­mem­o­rates the Civil Rights Move­ment, Com­mu­nity & Change – or­ga­nized by Dion Banks and Kisha Pet­ti­co­las of the Eastern Shore Net­work for Change (ESNC).

“In July of 1967, the town of Cambridge was shat­tered af­ter long-sim­mer­ing racial ten­sions erupted in clashes be­tween black res­i­dents and the mostly white po­lice of­fi­cers,” Banks said. “The ri­ots and re­sult­ing fires burned 17 build­ings in a two block area of Pine Street, the cen­ter of African-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity.”

The event is made pos­si­ble, Banks and Pet­ti­co­las said, by a broad coali­tion of com­mu­nity part­ners com­mit­ted to mak­ing Cambridge a place where ev­ery­one is welcome, and ev­ery per­son can be suc­cess­ful, happy, and healthy. Those part­ners in­clude lead­ers in ed­u­ca­tion, eco­nomic devel­op­ment, public safety, recre­ation, cul­ture, busi­ness, and the faith com­mu­nity.

Re­flec­tions on Pine will be held Thurs­day, July 20 through Sun­day, July 23. Events for the week­end will take place all over the city, and ever yone is en­cour­aged to par­tic­i­pate.

Thurs­day opens the week­end with a prayer break­fast spon­sored by the Min­is­te­rial Al­liance. Thurs­day evening there will be an open­ing re­cep­tion at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege. Fri­day evening there will be a gala din­ner at the Hy­att, cel­e­brat­ing Glo­ria Richard­son Dan­dridge and other no­table Cambridge civil rights ac­tivists.

Satur­day af­ter­noon there will be a com­mu­nity con­ver­sa­tion on the is­sue of race re­la­tions. Satur­day evening will be a mu­sic fes­ti­val that ESNC is call­ing “Groove on Pine”. Early Sun­day morn­ing, run­ners will par­take in a 5k race en­ti­tled “The Race Against Racism,” and later that morn­ing a non-de­nom­i­na­tional com­mu­nity church ser­vice will be held in an ef­fort to de­seg­re­gate the most seg­re­gated hour in Amer­ica.

Banks and Pet­ti­co­las be­lieve it to be very sig­nif­i­cant that this cel­e­bra­tion of Har­riet Tub­man will take place in the same year as the 50th an­niver­sary of the civil rights move­ment in Cambridge.

“Har­riet was the first civil rights leader in our com­mu­nity that we are aware of,” Pet­ti­co­las said. “She led the way to free­dom for many slaves and gave them the op­por­tu­nity for a bet­ter life. Her spirit is the thread that runs through the civil rights move­ment in Cambridge, and it is more than ap­pro­pri­ate that she be cel­e­brated dur­ing this an­niver­sary year. The open­ing of the Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Vis­i­tor Cen­ter is a part of our civil rights and hu­man rights story. It’s all a con­tin­u­a­tion of ex­pe­ri­ences in Amer­i­can his­tor y.”

The Har­riet Tub­man Un­der­ground Rail­road Vis­i­tor Cen­ter is a stake­holder in the Re­flec­tions on Pine event, ac­cord­ing to Banks and Pet­ti­co­las, and the park staff have been quite sup­port­ive of the event.

The part­ner­ship will be mutually ben­e­fi­cial as ESNC will be in at­ten­dance at the open­ing of the vis­i­tor cen­ter to dis­trib­ute in­for­ma­tion about Re­flec­tions on Pine, and on the last day of the July event, shut­tles will be or­ga­nized by ESNC to trans­port those who wish to visit the park, Banks and Pet­ti­co­las said.

In ad­di­tion to these two events, civil rights cham­pion Glo­ria Richard­son was cel­e­brated in Cambridge on Satur­day, Feb. 11, as Lt. Gov. Boyd Ruther­ford de­clared that day Glo­ria Richard­son Day in Mary­land.

Richard­son, 94, a Cambridge na­tive now liv­ing in New York, is cred­ited with lead­ing civil rights demon­stra­tions in Cambridge dur­ing the 1960s with a non­vi­o­lent ap­proach, fo­cus­ing on public ac­com­mo­da­tions and con­tin­u­ing the cause with other ac­tivists in the Cambridge Non­vi­o­lent Ac­tion Com­mit­tee when seg­re­ga­tion re­mained in the city.

“Mary­land rec­og­nizes the coura­geous lead­er­ship and com­mit­ment of Glo­ria H. Richard­son dur­ing the civil rights mo­ment of the 1960s,” Ruther­ford said. “Dur­ing a time of racial seg­re­ga­tion, Glo­ria H. Richard­son be­came one of the strong­est ad­vo­cates for eco­nomic rights, as well as de­seg­re­ga­tion. Mary­land is proud to join in hon­or­ing Glo­ria H. Richard­son for her con­tri­bu­tions in the fight to achieve racial equal­ity dur­ing a defin­ing era of our na­tion’s strug­gle for civil rights for all.”

Banks and Pet­ti­co­las called it an ab­so­lute honor to be part of the ini­tia­tive to honor Glo­ria Richard­son. Know­ing that we were able to cel­e­brate her while alive and to thank her for her sac­ri­fice was a sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence, they said.

“She along with her sup­port­ers, suc­cess­fully chal­lenged a na­tional sys­tem that led a bet­ter life for peo­ple in Cambridge and ul­ti­mately, the en­tire coun­try,” said Banks. “It is im­por­tant that we honor Har­riet Tub­man, Glo­ria Richard­son, and other no­table peo­ple who un­selfishly gave of their time and en­ergy to cre­ate a bet­ter world for oth­ers. We honor them by shar­ing their sto­ries with our com­mu­nity and with the world. We etch their sto­ries in the mem­o­ries of our lo­cal res­i­dents, and in the books of time, to make sure their sac­ri­fices are never taken for granted.”

“Eastern Shore Net­work for Change thrives on the en­ergy of lo­cal greats like Har­riet Tub­man, Glo­ria Richard­son, Fed Jack­son, Le­muel Ch­ester, Dwight Cromwell, and Enez Stafford-Grubb, to name a few,” said Pet­ti­co­las. “We are proud to cel­e­brate the ac­com­plish­ments of lo­cal he­roes, who ded­i­cated their lives to bat­tling civil in­jus­tice. We cel­e­brate our civil rights he­roes, both past and present, be­cause the strug­gle for so­cial jus­tice con­tin­ues. By hold­ing up these he­roes, we in­spire the next gen­er­a­tion to con­tinue the fight, be­cause the sta­tus quo is not an op­tion.”

Banks and Pet­ti­co­las in­vite ev­ery­one to join the ESNC in July for Re­flec­tions on Pine: Cambridge Com­mem­o­rates the Civil Rights Move­ment, Com­mu­nity & Change, and ask those in­ter­ested to con­sider a do­na­tion, spon­sor­ship, and vol­un­teer­ing time to make the event a suc­cess.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the up­com­ing event, visit www.re­flec­tion­son­pine.org.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

Lt. Gov. Boyd Ruther­ford, left, Eastern Shore Net­work for Change co-founder Dion Banks and Cambridge-Mayor Vic­to­ria Jack­son-Stan­ley un­veil on Feb. 11, the ESNC’s ban­ner for the up­com­ing se­ries “50 Years Af­ter the Fire: A Com­mem­o­ra­tion of Our His­tory,” a com­mem­o­ra­tion of the sum­mer of 1967 and the fire on Pine Street

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Re­flec­tions on Pine: Cambridge Com­mem­o­rates the Civil Rights Move­ment, Com­mu­nity & Change is an event or­ga­nized by the Eastern Shore Net­work for Change.

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