Monday was difficult in countless ways. The Boston Common, the center stage of our civic life, has seen generations of protest by change-seekers coming to make their voices heard. Not only do we stand in solidarity with the voices calling out for justice, we need to understand the pain that comes from so many protests for so many years yielding no results. Lee Pelton, Emerson College president and a member of our Committee to Renew the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial, wrote a powerful piece that was published in WBUR’s Cognoscenti, in which he wrote “In my lifetime I have been called the N-word by white people in every state and every city I have ever lived in.” Boston is no exception. The issue of racism and violence against the Black community must be addressed by us all.
Caring for the Common, the Garden, and the Mall is about more than maintaining their physical assets. It requires equality of access, the need for safe and welcoming greenspaces, and common ground where we can all come together – safely and peacefully – to ensure that our values and voices inform our shared future.
As you are probably aware, in the aftermath of the protests 16 monuments in the Parks were tagged with graffiti as well as numerous structures. We worked together with the Parks Department and the City’s Graffiti Busters to tackle a job that was too big for us alone. For the major graffiti at the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial, we worked with the National Park Service conservator as well as our conservator who is on the restoration project team. Everyone came together quickly and worked efficiently in the true spirit of partnership. We are also grateful for the many community members who were moved to come and help, picking up trash and helping clean park structures.
Justice is the message; we should not be distracted by the damage done by a small group of people. The Friends of the Public Garden pledges to accelerate our own efforts to make our parks more inclusive and welcoming. We may not have answers yet, but we will never stop asking hard questions.
Leslie Singleton Adam
Chair of the Board