Mu­ral celebrates African-Amer­i­can her­itage

Dorchester Star - - News - By DUSTIN HOLT dholt@ches­pub.com

— The City of Cam­bridge and Dorch­ester County Tourism ded­i­cated the county’s new­est mu­ral Friday, July 21, as part of the four-day “Re­flec­tions on Pine: Cam­bridge com­mem­o­rates civil rights, com­mu­nity and change” se­ries.

The mu­ral, which is at the cor­ner of Mar yland Ave. and U.S. Route 50 in Cam­bridge, high­lights Cam­bridge’s African-Amer­i­can his­tory, cul­ture and her­itage, par­tic­u­larly in the com­mu­nity around Pine Street, which is one of the old­est African-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties in the coun­try, dat­ing back to the mid-1800s.

The 11-foot-by-48-foot mu­ral was cre­ated by artist Michael Rosato, whose stu­dio is in down­town Cam­bridge. Rosato’s work is fea­tured in mu­se­ums, pub­lic spa­ces and pri­vate res­i­dences across the coun­try, in­clud­ing the Smith­so­nian Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and the Ok­la­homa City Na­tional Memo­rial & Mu­seum in Ok­la­homa City, Okla.

At the cen­ter of the mu­ral is Har­riet Tub­man, a Dorch­ester County na­tive and con­duc­tor of the Un­der­ground Rail­road. To her right is Glo­ria Richard­son Dan­dridge, a key fig­ure in the civil rights move­ment in Cam­bridge in the 1960s.

The other fig­ures in the mu­ral rep­re­sent a Tuskegee air­man; Dr. J. Ed­win Fas­sett; Nurse Max­ine Magee, one of the first AfricanAmer­i­can pub­lic health nurses in the coun­try; Ella Fitzger­ald, one of many pop­u­lar African-Amer­i­can mu­si­cians who per­formed on Pine Street; and small busi­ness own­ers and ev­ery­day peo­ple whose con­tri­bu­tions may not be as well known but res­onate to this day, such as a brick­layer, a bar­ber, a baker, a farmer and a high school ath­lete.

Greg Meekins, mem­ber of the Dorch­ester Elks Lodge 223 and Sail­winds Park Inc., said Rosato is a tal­ented artist, and he cre­ated a mag­nif­i­cent mu­ral.

“I got tears in my eyes when I first saw the mu­ral,” he said. “It is a liv­ing his­tory.

“This is my home,” he said. “I lived here at a time where we did see ashes. Can you build a new world on the ashes of the old? I stand be­fore you to tell you in the year 2017, we can and we will build a new com­mu­nity on the ashes that were all from Pine Street. For that to hap­pen, it will have to take all of us. It is not go­ing to be easy. No ef­forts when it comes to im­prov­ing life comes easy.”

Cam­bridge Mayor Vic­to­ria Jack­son-Stan­ley said the word that came to mind when she sees the mu­ral is love.

“Look at the faces of all of those peo­ple,” she said. “The ath­lete loves run­ning. The farmer loves to farm. We all love Ella Fitzger­ald. Look­ing at ev­ery one of those faces is about love. Ev­ery one of you stand­ing in this hot sun on this beau­ti­ful day loves Cam­bridge so much.

“Fred Jack­son, my daddy, your friend, your cousin, fought with Glo­ria Richard­son, stood with her to make these lit­tle guys over here safe in our com­mu­nity,” she said. “We are go­ing to con­tinue the strug­gle,” she said, un­til the soil is cleaned with love.

“I am for the fight,” she said. “Yell as loud as you can so the neg­a­tive nel­lies out there will know that even though they are neg­a­tive, even though they are not with us, they will not stop us from mov­ing for­ward.”

Dorch­ester County Tourism Di­rec­tor Amanda Fen­ster­maker said the county re­ceived money for the pro­ject through a grant, and the mu­ral is one of six mu­rals by Rosato around Dorch­ester County. She said the mu­rals were planned by the Gate­way Plan­ning Com­mit­tee and Sail­winds Park Inc.

The other road­side mu­rals in­clude a big blue heron at J.M. Clay­ton Seafood Com­pany, the “Ode to Water­men” mu­ral on the Dorch­ester County Vis­i­tors Cen­ter, and other mu­rals in East New Mar­ket and Vi­enna as part of the Ch­e­sa­peake Coun­try Mu­ral Trail.

“This is a beau­ti­ful and won­der­ful thing,” she said. “This mu­ral pro­ject rep­re­sents a con­ver­gence of a bunch of dif­fer­ent things. We turned this into a re­ally unique se­ries of road­side mu­rals. Michael, you are a true jewel of the com­mu­nity.

“We are a com­mu­nity,” she said. “There is a lot of love here. I am ex­cited about the mo­men­tum and progress we can make when we are all bond­ing to­gether and start­ing from a place of love.”

When Rosato stepped to the podium, the mo­ment and emo­tions moved him so much he could not get many words out to de­scribe his emo­tions of see­ing the mu­ral.

“I poured my­self into these mu­rals,” he said.

Dorch­ester County Coun­cil pres­i­dent Ricky Travers said Rosato is a very gifted and tal­ented and lo­cal artist.

“This re­flects the life of well­known African-Amer­i­cans, Har­riet Tub­man, Dr. J. Ed­win Fas­sett, Nurse Max­ine Magee and Glo­ria Richard­son Dan­dridge,” he said. “Also in the mu­ral are ev­ery­day peo­ple who rep­re­sent the farm­ers, the bak­ers, the peo­ple who lay bricks, the peo­ple who cut hair, ath­letes, mil­i­tary air­man and fam­ily.

“This mu­ral re­flects peo­ple from over 50 years ago who worked hard to raise their fam­i­lies and help make our com­mu­nity the place it is to­day,” he said. “Times were not al­ways easy. This mu­ral gives us a chance to re­mem­ber our past, re­flect on the things that change over these past 50 years and re­al­iza­tion that our fu­ture is

PHOTOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

The Cam­bridge and Dorch­ester County com­mu­nity ded­i­cate the county’s new­est mu­ral, which celebrates Cam­bridge’s African-Amer­i­can his­tory.

Cam­bridge Mayor Vic­to­ria Jack­son-Stan­ley talks at the dedication of Dorch­ester County’s new­est mu­ral, which celebrates Cam­bridge’s African-Amer­i­can his­tory.

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