The history of Roxbury is long and complex. In the 17th century, the community was a farming town on the outskirts of Boston. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was home for the wealthy and middle classes that were leaving Boston in search of larger homes and more space. Although the first half of the 20th century saw continued opportunity for some, the second half was witness to decades of structural and institutional racism and disinvestment that left the neighborhood physically, culturally, socially, and economically scarred, isolated, and burdened with stereotypes not of its own design.
As we move further into the 21st Century, Roxbury is a place where social justice action is critically important. Discover Roxbury fulfills some of that role in a few ways.
First, Discover Roxbury advocates for local and citywide community members to collaborate on dismantling stereotypes that hinder social progress and economic growth. In building Roxbury pride, Discover Roxbury disrupts the perceptions of a neighborhood associated with crime, poverty, and lack of resources. Our work recognizes underutilized community assets and fosters an environment fertile for cultural economic potential.
Second, Discover Roxbury diversifies the narrative of what it means to be from Boston and who lives here. We are the combined experiences of everyone who has contributed to making Roxbury a diverse and rich place to live, including Native Americans, Puritans, Germans, Irish, Jewish, African American, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Haitian, Somali, and other populations. Just as the mainstream narrative of Roxbury does not adequately sum of the neighborhood, the mainstream narrative of Boston does not adequately sum up the city or the region.
Finally, Discover Roxbury advocates on behalf of Roxbury. We work with artists in the creative class, and extend our knowledge, connections and cultural offerings to expose their work to a wider audience. We work with individuals and institutions interested in Roxbury’s history, reclaiming its present, and recapturing our historical past. Discover Roxbury’s involvement builds strength in the community and is responsive and inclusive to the people who visit, live and or work in Roxbury.
Why does advocating for Roxbury matter?
Roxbury is often artificially divided by class, racial, and/or geographic lines. Discover Roxbury’s priority is to build a sense of a united Roxbury across the hills and boulevards of the neighborhood. This sense of pride, ownership, and unity serves to create a healthier and more engaged community. Just as the health of each part of a body contributes to the overall health of a person, the health of each part of Roxbury matters to the overall health of the community. Discover Roxbury’s work delivers a return on the community health investment by promoting successes and institutionalizing activities and ideas that work to create additional avenues of social, cultural, and economic growth.
How does Discover Roxbury advocate?
Promotion of assets (existing & historic)
Discover Roxbury promotes existing and historic neighborhood assets via tours of historic sites, arts events, civic and cultural gatherings, and businesses visits. The organization also nurtures and encourages the incorporation of community voice into its programming and advocacy by developing Roxbury residents as tour leaders and by serving as a resource that helps sustain community memory. Additionally, Discover Roxbury participates annually in the Greater Boston Concierge Trade Show and has presented at the Mass History Conference and NEFA’s Creative Communities Exchange conference.
Participation in Initiatives
Discover Roxbury participates in various civic, cultural, and commercial initiatives and organizations to support the work of local and citywide partners. Some of our more recent participations include:
Mayor Walsh’s transition team on arts and culture
Roxbury Cultural Network
Egleston Street Main Street
Media & public appearances
Discover Roxbury is often contacted to respond to media requests and interviews. Representatives of the organization have appeared on
WCVB-TV: Chronicle and CityLine
WGBH Radio: Under the Radar with Callie Crossley
WGBH-TV: Basic Black shows
Boston Neighborhood News
Bay State Banner
The Boston Globe also published a Letter to the Editor by Derek Lumpkins, Executive Director, in 2013..