Light Poles Display Banners for Black History Month On Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington

This February (2022) I learned to look up at light poles for Black History Month banners along Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington. Luckily banners from earlier Februaries (2020 and 2021) were up again, along with the newest ones. Different artists, selected by Arlington Human Rights Commission and Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture, created the banners for each year.

(L) Two of fifteen banners created in 2020 by Joseph Joey James, (R) One of six banners designed in 2021 by Rachel Domond

Black History Month is almost over, and I haven’t yet taken enough photos worthy of the art I’ve seen. But I can share links, quotes, and better images from significant websites that should convey the distinctions and connections among the banners since 2020. From these sources, I keep learning about significant individuals, groups, and organizations, past and present!

Eight of fifteen banners created in 2020 by Joseph Joey James

From Arlington’s own Prince Hall, the founder of the first African American Masonic Temple in the United States, to the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry at the center of one of the most famous episodes of The Civil War, each banner will help educate and celebrate the state and local connections to history.” ( quote from “Arlington Celebrates Black History Month” AHRC Feb 2020)

Four of six banners designed in 2021 by Rachel Domond

“Fighting for Social Justice, is the theme of the new banners, which were designed by East Arlington native, Rachel Domond. Co-sponsoring with the Arlington Commission on Arts and Culture, the AHRC selected Domond as part of a statewide call for artists. She is a self-taught artist now based in Roxbury, MA. Her art explores themes of land, anti-imperialism and sovereignty, pride in home, people power and liberation politics. She seeks inspiration from the relationship between Black women – namely, Haitian and Caribbean women – and the land, as well as the revolutionary motive of peoples’ movements both in the U.S. and abroad in creating her pieces.” ( quote from AHRC Arlington Celebrates Black History Month 2021)

Two of six “In Loving Memory” banners (23.5×48), created by Jasmine Milton from her acrylic portraits on canvas

“Milton’s beautiful banners are a poignant reminder of the unequal efforts to find missing kids of color. “When black people go missing in Massachusetts, who is looking for them?” she asks. “We commonly see people showcased in the news fit a specific demographic, and thus receive more assistance from law enforcement.”” (quote from Jasmine Milton’s ‘In Loving Memory’ Banners.. Arts Arlington February 2022 )

“Color theory is used to challenge the dichotomy between who these people were and how they were perceived. In fact, most of these kids have impacted their community in positive ways that deserve more recognition.”(from Jasmine Milton’s Artist Statement)
“Ella Josephine Baker (December 13, 1903 – December 13, 1986) was an African-American civil rights and human rights activist. She was a largely behind-the-scenes organizer whose career spanned more than five decades….” (quote from paragraphs about each banner, AHRC 2021)

Websites for artists: Joseph Joey James , Rachel Domond , Jasmine Milton

Arlington Human Rights Commission listing of images with bio or background for people or groups shown in banners: Arlington Celebrates Black History Month, 2020, 2021 , Check Out the New Black History Month Banners in Arlington Heights! 2022

Streaming live on YouTubeArlington Human Rights Commission and ArtsArlington presentation of artists Jasmine Milton and two Ottoson Middle School student artists, Allegra Biagetti and Olivia Malgieri, discussing this year’s #BlackHistoryMonth banner art project. 

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