18 Comments

  1. A timely article reminding us that we might not do great things, but we can do small things great. Love the can do spirit of Melnea Cass!

  2. What a wonderful article… Melnea is definitely an inspiration to us all! Thank you Rosalyn.

  3. I found this article very interesting and inspiring. Very topical too, with so many people now taking to the streets to force change for social, economic and political justice. I’m also very happy that such a busy, important thoroughfare in the center of Roxbury was chosen to be named for Melnea Cass.

    1. Author

      We are sure that Mrs. Cass would have worked to resolve the human desolation at Massachusetts Avenue and save the trees along the boulevard.

  4. Great article giving me a new perspective on the person honored by the Boulevard. I hope that when I drive down the new and improved street that it will include the trees threatened w removal – and some kind of memorial for her. Thanks!

  5. with fresh interests currently coming forward to learn/teach/know more deeply about Boston’s Black history in BPS, UMass Boston, and other educational sites, her story and the sources/voices/places referenced in the article are so valuable. great example. much needed project overall.

  6. Mrs. Cass’s name on a major boulevard of the city, among other things, should be a reminder to all of us of her inspirational life and achievements. I have often wondered about her life when traveling on Melnea Cass Boulevard. This informative article will enrich my thoughts every time I see her name in the future. Thank you for publishing it!

  7. I so enjoyed reading this article. Had just read a bit about Helene Leary, a Jamaica Plain pioneer. It is so inspiring to read about women who made the fabric of the ground we walk on strong, resilient and more just. Great to know more about Melnea Cass.

  8. In response to the admin comment I absolutely agree and beyond that, I don’t think Ms. Cass would have let it come to this point. I 1st drove my school bus in Phase 2 of the desegregation of the BPS in Sept. 1975, out of the old MBTA lot on Washington St. near Dudley. I really appreciated the Blvd.’s help (when it opened in ‘81) to me in fulfilling my mission (30+ yrs. total) of getting the kids to and from school safely & on time.

  9. Beautiful and inspiring piece Rosalyn! Thank you so much!

  10. Nice article. I knew Mrs. Cass from the time I moved to Boston as a teenager in the late 50’s early 60’s. I remember her taking me by car, along with a couple of other kids, to a church event in Connecticut. I remember voting and she was always there as a strong advocate and volunteer. I also remember the Dr. King march through Roxbury to the Commons in 1965 and passing by her standing on the sidewalk watching the march. I waved and shouted out to her, “Mrs. Cass – are you going to march?” She said no, she was too tired now. She said it was up to us to continue the march. I remember the day that Janet Langhart, with whom she had become very close, announced that she died. It was a sad day for many of us. Mrs. Cass was one of the most impactful women I knew in Boston. Mrs. Cass, Ruth Batson, Ellen Jackson, Elma Lewis, and other Black women who were involved in the Boston movement for equality and justice, all made a huge impression on me and others my age throughout our lifetimes. They were our models. It was a blessing to know Mrs. Cass, to work with and for Ruth Batson, and to demonstrate with others, as Roxbury, Dorchester, and the South End fought the good fight for equality and justice. Hopefully, this will help us remember the Black women from Boston on whose shoulders we stand. There were many! Wish I could list them all. And the fight continues!

  11. So appreciate seeing this history of Melnea Cass. I love the quote at the beginning of the article, but think her ‘small things in a great way’ were really great things. Thank you, Rosalyn, for this article.

  12. Awesome article! Ms. Cass was a force to be reckoned with during her time and inspired the youth to continue the fight after she was gone. Thank you so much for publishing such an interesting article. Rosalyn Elder is a storyteller who writes with clarity and motivates us to want to learn more!

  13. Author

    There are names all around us that we speak with reverence, but forget why. We are very pleased that this post has generated such positive response and hope to continue the discussion. More to come.

  14. I enjoyed reading this article. I would like to know who the young woman is with the staircase behind her. I do not recognize this person. She may be Rosa Brown. I don’t think that is Mary Drew Jones.

  15. Ros Elder never ceases to amaze me with her dogged work ethic in giving people credit whom we tend to forget. Kudos on this article.

  16. Your extraordinary work as an historian is an invaluable asset of knowledge for young and old people alike. Thank you.
    Larry

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