By Mayor Martin J. Walsh
February is Black History Month and, in Boston, we have a full series of events planned to celebrate the achievements of Black Bostonians– the women and men, seniors and students, veterans and clergy, business owners and activists who have been at the heart of our city’s progress and success since the beginning.
Honoring this history and progress is something we must do every day, all year round. That’s why Boston is helping to lead a national movement to recognize that Black history is #MoreThanAMonth. This year, Black History Month kicks off a year-round celebration, in partnership with Boston’s Black community, that we are calling a Year of Black Excellence. Black Excellence events will reach all ages and offer a range of activities including arts, sports, history, culture, job resources, and community programming.
Black History Month began on Feb. 3 at City Hall with a Black Heritage Kickoff Celebration. It continues with events like the Carter G. Woodson Basketball Tournament, the Dream Chasers Call for Artists, our Age Strong Black Heritage Celebration for seniors, the third Annual Fashionscape and Arts of Boston, our 4th Annual African American Veterans Brunch, and many more. The remainder of our Year of Black Excellence will be anchored by a series of signature events, in partnership with community members and leading Boston institutions.
In July, Boston will host the national NAACP convention. Being named the host city for this national event was a great honor. We saw right away what an opportunity it would be to not only celebrate our city’s progress, but also to catalyze a future of Black achievement that pushes us ever closer to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of equality, justice, and harmony. We are working closely with the community to host the greatest NAACP convention ever held. This event will be a milestone in Boston’s history and a focus of the national conversation around social justice and economic equity.
Ultimately, real change is what it’s all about. That’s why our Year of Black Excellence also coincides with major new initiatives and investments we are making in affordable housing, equity in education, access to transportation, and environmental justice. We will show that when we work to empower everyone and increase equity across our neighborhoods, our city becomes a better place for all– and we can lead the nation forward as well.
We are being bold in Boston. We have made progress, but there is much work still to be done. We are inspired by the history of individual accomplishment and community progress that Black Bostonians have achieved, often against tremendous odds.
In January, we began the year by remembering the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He led the country to greater equality and justice, but the realization of his dream is not complete. His vision continues to inspire more progress every day. That’s ultimately what our Year of Black Excellence is all about. I invite you to join us.
If you’d like to learn more, visit boston.gov/black-excellence.
Martin J. Walsh is the Mayor of Boston.