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An Ode to Africa in the Americas Mural

An Ode to Africa in the Americas

The outdoor mural, titled "An Ode to Africa in the Americas," is a collaborative project of two dozen Black and Brown artists from the Roxbury community, led by Boston-based master muralist and mural director Roberto Chao, in a unique partnership with Roxbury Community College. It celebrates Africa’s rich history and culture as they have influenced and manifested on the American continent.

The mural crew’s collective vision honors and illustrates the past and present of Africa’s presence in the Americas in all its richness, complexity, devastation, resilience, pain, joy, beauty, creativity, and brilliance. 

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mural unveiling outside

Located along the walkway between Buildings 3 and 4, the brightly colored 9’ x 85' mural is also visible from Columbus Avenue. From a distance, the vivid forms and colors invite viewers to come closer. Up close, visitors will appreciate its complex wealth of imagery and history. The 85-foot-long mural features themes of liberation and resistance, the African origins of life, celebration, and nature and foodways, illustrating the historic and ongoing impact of Africa throughout the Americas.

Mural Unveiling

It was formally unveiled on November 3rd, 2023 as part of the College’s 50th anniversary celebration. Interim RCC President Jackie Jenkins-Scott, RCC Board of Trustees Chair, Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins, and Roxbury Community College Foundation Board Chair, Reverend Dr. Ray Hammond, shared remarks, along with Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s Roxbury Liaison Asha Janay, who presented master muralist Roberto Chao with a city proclamation, declaring November 3rd, 2023, “Roberto Chao Day”.

Explore the Mural


Curious about the carnival dancer? Or the Adinkra symbols? Explore the key elements and overarching themes by clicking on the four color section links of the mural below or scroll down to learn more.

Brown Section: Liberation

Blue Section: Origins

Orange Section: Celebration

Green Section: Nature

Want to learn how the mural was made? Learn more on the Mural Making Process page!


Brown Section: Liberation

The struggle for freedom in the face of oppression is one of the most important contributions from the African continent to the Americas in particular. This history of liberation is illustrated by shadows of ancestors facing a Black fist in formation as it rises from the ground, a flow from the origins of humanity to grassroots resistance. The pyramids, hieroglyphics, and Adinkra symbols surrounding the brown-hued scene help to connect this history of liberation struggle to the proud and influential cultures of African peoples.

Blue Section: Origins

Waters bring and create life, as illustrated by the symbols and motifs selected for the blue scene. A hand dripping with indigo ink, ready to dye adire cloth, is engulfed by the frothy blues of the waterfall. The iconic baobab “tree of life” is draped by an African proverb, while the schooner, Clotilda, turns eastward home, back to Africa.

Orange Section: Celebration

Bright yellows and oranges invite mural visitors to turn their attention to themes of joy, celebration, and the vigor of the present. Look for signs of unity, ritualistic scenes of joy, evidence of success in industry, and slogans of inspiration. 

Green Section: Mother Nature

Vibrant shades of green call to attention one more time the monumental influence of the past on the future. Woven throughout this section are themes of nature, foodways as shown in agricultural, cooking, and eating practices, and the youth. The first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari Maathai, challenges mural visitors in her own words to consider what they must do next to guarantee a sustainable future for the generations of tomorrow. 

Meet the Artists

The mural could not have been designed, painted, or installed without the commitment, dedication, and exuberance of the mural crew who contributed substantially to the project. The joyful, collaborative spirit from the team was present throughout with excellent leadership and guidance from Director Roberto Chao, with project coordination assistance by Mark Schafer. Thank you to Akunna Eneh, Anna Francella Rodriguez, Bosede A. Opetubo, Chanise Vanes, Cristóbal Sánchez, Dosha Ellis Beard, Jonathan Innocent, L’Merchie Frazier, Lisa Nagid, Maddu Huacuja, Melissa Lin, Natalia Zuleta, Rosalyn Delores Elder, Silvina Mizrahi, and Tamyya Wright. Below is a small selection of artist profiles for mural visitors to gain an appreciation of the wonderful talent and giving spirit of the Roxbury community.


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