Graffiti Roxbury Massachusetts
Graffiti Roxbury Massachusetts

The town of Roxbury is creating a character that is much different from the shamrocks, pubs and distinct Bostonian accent you hear all the time. Roxbury is a neighborhood within Boston Massachusetts. It was one of the first towns founded in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in sixteen thirty and became a city in eighteen forty- eight. The city of Roxbury became a suburb of Boston in eighteen sixty- eight. In the 19th Century the northern areas such as Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury and much of ‘the Back Bay-this area was, settled, by English, German and Irish people. In the early twentieth century, the town of Roxbury became the home to the Jewish community. The area known as Grove Hall, along Blue Hill Avenue came to be the center of Jewish habitat. The social, political and economical background of the district as always been crucial in the identity of the region been predominantly Protestant or Catholic. With the coming of the southern blacks during the post second war migrations. The region began the process of change that affects how we look at Roxbury and the other regions of South Boston. As a result, the report deals with the reasons the blacks migrated north to towns like Roxbury. Moreover, how the neighborhood ultimately affected by change became a site for racial unrest and hate. The influx of black people from the south of the United States to Roxbury Massachusetts occurred in the 1940s. They were attracted by lesser discrimination, beautiful homes and higher wages. Upon coming to the north the migrants encountered segregation, which was encouraged by the white people. Furthermore, the neighborhoods re-structuring soon generated an increased crime rate and turf warfare that was racially motivated. The property value soon depreciated with the coming of the black migrants to the town of Roxbury and other neighborhoods. Moreover, anything negative within the community, thus was the direct cause of the migrant moving to Roxbury. The racial tension reached monumental heights with the civil rights marches of the nineteen sixties and the forced busing of students, which led to violent out-breaks in all communities of Massachusetts. The Great Migration of black people from the south and into the northern cities were one of the most significant demographic events to occur in America. These men, women and children decided to move due to the cruel and inhumane treatment experienced in the south. Upon arriving in the northa migrant stated these words {I done come out of the land of Egypt with the good news …} This simile referred to the slave like conditions still existing in the south. In the nineteen hundreds, the southern state had passed laws enforcing racial segregation in public accommodations and public transportations. They had signs saying, no niggers allowed or white people only . The black migrant worker was inferior in every way to the southern whites. Southern law required the black people to ride on separate sections on trains or streetcars. The black people were inferior to the white people in the south. The black migrant worker from the south, for generations after slavery had faced conditions of seemingly perpetual dept, poverty and malnutrition. Racism was enshrined in the north and south but it seemed the racism in the north did not equate to lynching, burning of crosses or cheap labor.Many white business owners were indeed upset or jealous of the migration north. They feared the loss of the cheap labor that for generations had made agriculture in the south profitable would now ruin the economy. Moreover, they considered migration the epitome of insult to the social caste system of the south.The migrants consequently were coming for equal rights, personal dignity, and economic opportunity. They had hopes of achieving a bettor life for the children. The black migrant worker’s who decided to make Roxbury their home, had come from a wide variety of social backgrounds. Many had made their living as school teachers or skilled workers in the south. The companies in the east were willing to take them because they were skilled and they were willing to work longer hours at a cheaper rate. A new way of life was also well regarded by the black migrants from the south. Some of these people had never even been to school or traveled out of the state. The migration to Roxbury Massachusetts in the nineteen fifties not only created jobs and a safer environment for the children, italso placed poor black people into affordable homes. This was engineered by the city government of Boston, who was interested in monitoring the habitual movement of the southern black. This form of demographical monitoring and grouping by ethnicity was titled the Boston Urban Renewal Program. This system secretly established a boundary within the Jewish section as the only area where in which insured mortgages would be granted and only to blacks. This program caused a lot of controversy because it promoted blacks moving to Boston. To continue the house prices depreciated because nobody wanted to live in a community that would eventually foster a lot of today s crime and harbor a large black population.


The affects of the black population coming to South Boston is very astounding. The first wave of migrants really immigrated to areas like Roxbury, Dorchester or Mattapan in the early 1900s. This group created a black on black form of racism that extended well into the nineteen sixties. The following story gives evidence to the previous statement. {Stephanie thought she had no right to her Irish heritage. As an adult, Stephanie has thought more about her Irish side and says that her daughter, Rachel, taught her to acknowledge her whiteness and her Irish heritage. Stephanie is a light skinned African American, as are many of her family members. She was listed as white on her birth certificate which she guesses was a mistake made by a nurse who saw her alone, not with other family members. Years earlier, Elijah and his family were listed as white on the 1920 census, perhaps because the census taker met Mary and assumed the other family members were white. Stephanie grew up in Roxbury, a predominantly black area of Boston, and later West Roxbury, an area that was predominantly white. She and her family left Roxbury during the 1960 s when blackness dominated the identity of African Americans. In the 1960 s, she was stoned and attacked in Roxbury when she walked through because other African Americans assumed she was white. In what Stephanie calls Old Boston, she says that most African Americans were light skinned. Many Old Boston African Americans were light skinned, and many were blue-eyed. Their color arranged from Stephanie nearly white to medium brown. When she was growing up, Roxbury was structured by color, profession and economics. The professional were very articulate and orderly. The professional group was the light- skinned people. The Darkest were the poorest who were the migratory blacks from the south. The Franklin Park area of Roxbury was where the light skinned lived and the economic path went down all the way to Dudley and Northampton Streets where the poorest, darkest lived. Then in the fifties and sixties and influx of migrants brought very dark skinned African Americans to Roxbury. The light skinned were no longer welcome. Stephanie thinks that it never occurred to newer black residents that people so light skinned were also black.} These light-skinned people were given the title of Black Brahmin -they were really the second settlers of Boston behind the Puritans-.the Black Brahmin may have been more disappointed in the migration of so many dark skinned people to the city. The Brahmin s did not really want toidentify with the with the migrants, because it only seemed that they represented oppression The Irish people eventually showed more hatred to the black migrants. In the early century the Irish people were still migrating to America and they were evidently upset with living so close to {niggers}. The city witnessed the segregation of neighborhoods and separate school systems. The Irish community may have been jealous because the migrant workers could purchase such old but beautiful property. These areas held the key to the city of Boston past and it seemed strange that black people whose grand parents may have been slaves, could actually, own such important property. When many Irish people found out about the deal, the Jewish people made the attacks increased and became more violent. This violence is summarized in the following paragraph from the novel, (The Death Of An American Jewish Community). During the nineteen forties and aswould be true throughout the nineteen fifties an aging Boston police officer could not ask for an easier beat than Boston s Jewish neighborhood. After twenty years on the job, no one was in the mood to match speed with juvenile delinquents or break up barroom brawls. In Jewish Roxbury, parents kept their kids in line and there was hardly a bar in sight. Potbellied cops angled for station nineteen, where, the saying went, a cop could always find a Jew in a synagogue The era before migration was much more peaceful. The migrant workers could have been the reason why the community failed. The government contributed to the demise of this neighborhood by implementing low mortgage rates, which on many of occasion homeowners had to forfeit,because the migrant did not make adequate funds. The community saw many people skip town or families moving out because they could not pay the rent. The neighborhoods of Roxbury, which were quite beautiful and vibrant soon became the homes of the most defeated Americans. The area was now home to some of the worst criminals in the state. The town of Roxbury also had major religious changes. The first known Christian faith to the community was the Protestants. The Irish brought a sense of the Roman Catholic appeal to the neighborhood beginning in thelatter part of the nineteenth century. To continue the Jewish people built synagogues, which gave the neighbor a Mediterranean flare. Furthermore, the black migrant s religion was Baptist. This was a very loud and country style worship, where the minister and congregation got deeply involved. The Baptist church music along with the blues music became instrumental to the city of Roxbury. As the ghetto grew and became more visible to whites, it did so mostly in terms of the problems and crime. On the FBI index in nineteen sixty black males reportedly represented five per cent of Boston population but twenty four per cent of people arrested for crimes. The white communities in the suburb realized a greater need to protect neighborhood. A prime example would be string of murders in the Boston suburbs. These murders were once thought to be the act of a citizen living somewhere in Roxbury or Dorchester. With the emergence of school desegregation movement in the early nineteen sixties resulted from the confluence of national events, improved economic conditions for native blacks and close to ten decades of fighting for bettor schools in the black community. The black people of Roxbury in addition, similar districts were finally satisfied. Here was positive change for their children. The area of Roxbury, which was predominantly black in the southern section, could now see a bettor education for their children. desegregation and multiculturalism was not fully excepted though by black and light skinned black groups as shown in the following anecdote statement. The black influx came just as native blacks enjoyed their most significant advance in economic mobility in at least a century. The more established middle-class black viewed with trepidation the most poor, rough edged newcomers . Rivalries and cultural differences existed among old natives, new southerners (called {homies} or migrant. The poor blacks from the south had caused the Brahmin blacks to lose social status, moreover plummeting the improved Brahmin black schools further down. The area of Roxbury slums and ghettos increased in size and social problems This neighborhood was now, not wanted by many upscale blacks in the community who were forced to stay because of racism. With the coming of desegregation within the school, system racism reached a record high in Boston. They were signs stating monkey go back home or nigger go home . In Roxbury a white student was stabbed which consequently caused out-rage in the Irish part of Roxbury. The black sections of Roxbury were more, influenced


by the demonstrations of New York City. The black people of South Boston were instrumentally less militant and aggressive than neighbors in other parts of the country. The assumed reason for this trait could be that blacks did not have the numbers in the civil department to exude change. The Irish clans were still dominant in the police force. The Italians were also very close knit and the Jewish community strived on business interests. The ethnic clans that once lived in Roxbury took pride in maintaining the neighborhood. The black migrants evidently had nothing and wereforced into this neighborhood to contain them like caged dogs. The Boston government preferred containment as opposed to having them move everywhere. This obvious neglect of an ethnic group by not contributing adequate funds into their neighborhoods for bettor schools or even reasonable wages, further plummeted the southern part of the town into destitute.


Today Roxbury is home to other immigrants from places such as Vietnam, Mexico and the West Indies. The community has been refurnished or upgraded. The run down three level homes have been, refurbished for college students or yuppies that have discovered the neighborhood again. The community is now the home to college students, musicians and very liberal minded people. The community is doing much to put a polish into the once tarnished image. The influx of new migrants has created new scents and flavors within the neighborhood. To continue the political scene does not embody nationalism. The community is very much in doing so a dramatic turn around is evidenced. The Roxbury of old was James Curley, Jewish Bagels and Shamrocks. Today s Roxbury boast names such as Bobby Brown and foods like curried chicken and chicken fried rice. The music could be salsa, reggae or hard rock. The community is so colorful and vibrant you would not believe that it was once the cause of racial unrest..

Courtney Duncan