What's In a Name?
by Beth Henson

The historically black town of Roxbury, Massachusetts is disappearing from maps of the Boston metropolitan area. Founded in the 17th century, Roxbury was absorbed into Boston in the late nineteenth century, along with Allston, Brighton, Jamaica Plain, and others. All the towns have continued to use their original names.

But Roxbury, the part of the city mostly identified with Black Boston, is being wiped off the maps. Bell Atlantic's recent neighborhood guide for South Boston, Roxbury and Dorchester includes no map at all for Roxbury. Prominent local institutions, such as the Museum of Fine Arts and Northeastern University, list their address as Boston and not Roxbury. And the post office has decided to call some Roxbury neighborhoods Dorchester instead.

This sounds like an attempt to make Boston's black community invisible. Will physical displacement follow the renaming (or unnaming) of their community? Is this another step in an accelerated wave of urban renewal, creeping into Roxbury from adjacent trendy areas like the South End?

What's in a name?


"the name game has already been played in the south bay area of Los Angeles. there was a minor controversy a few years back with the renaming of Compton Blvd. to Marine ave. Compton,Calif. has been burdened by its reputation as a gang-bangers haven. the east / west street runs through the cities of Gardena,Lawndale and Redondo Beach. i guess city fathers determined that perception rooted in paranoia carries a greater weight than REALITY!!"
- ronnie brown

 

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