At 100, Boston NAACP confronts city’s mixed past
After drawing hundreds of voters during the chapter’s first contested election in a decade last month, Boston’s NAACP is preparing to embark on a yearlong celebration to mark the chapter’s 100th anniversary with forums and community discussions — starting with events this weekend honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
But black activists warn that any such celebration must included honest discussions about Boston’s troubled racial legacy, from the busing riots of the 1970s to current violence in largely black neighborhoods.
“It’s time we have this conversation,” said Horace Small, executive director of the Union of Minority Neighborhoods, an anti-poverty and civil rights group based in Boston. “Around the country, black people have images of Boston, and they aren’t pretty.”
Those images includes police in riot gear in 1974 protecting black schoolchildren from white protesters unhappy about busing from black neighborhoods into theirs. They include the Boston Red Sox as the last of the 16 major-league teams to sign a black player — more than a decade after Jackie Robinson entered the scene — and the largely white Boston Celtics team of the 1980s, when most NBA teams were stacked with black players.
Others also point out that Boston, where around half of residents are people of color, has never elected a black mayor, unlike cities including Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.