On Friday, November 3, 2023, Roxbury Community College (RCC) proudly unveiled its newest mural, “An Ode to Africa in the Americas,” in a dedication ceremony that celebrated the collaborative spirit between RCC and the Roxbury community. This vibrant and expansive 17-panel mural now graces an 85-foot stretch of the outdoor walkway wall between Buildings 3 and 4 of the RCC campus and can be seen from Columbus Avenue. The panels were painted on weather-resistant aluminum composite panels.
At the ceremony, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s office honored esteemed muralist Roberto Chao, who led the creation of the mural, by proclaiming November 3 to be Roberto Chao Day. Under Chao’s guidance, the art piece saw contributions from over two dozen Black and Brown artists from Roxbury. “I am a community artist,” Chao said. “I’m like the conductor of an orchestra. The final work is not about me, it is a collective effort.” The artists spanned various stages in their careers, from internationally recognized elders to budding talents. Together, they devoted an approximate total of 2,000 hours in volunteer design work and painting to bring this vision to life on the RCC campus.
“This mural stands as a testament to the College's commitment to celebrating diverse histories, nurturing local talent, and fostering community partnerships,” said Roxbury Community College Interim President Jackie Jenkins-Scott.
With each 9-foot tall panel, An Ode to Africa in the Americas captures the multifaceted journey of Africa’s legacy in the Americas – echoing tales of adversity, resilience, joy, creativity, and undeniable brilliance. The team's unified vision has indeed rendered a poignant ode to the African heritage, and its profound influence in the Americas, evoking deep emotions and reflection. Adding an educational dimension to the artwork, a QR code beside the mural directs visitors to in-depth insights about its symbolism and historical context, enabling them to delve deeper into the narrative portrayed.
RCC visual arts student Tamyya Wright, 26, of Roxbury, connected with the theme of the mural “It shows where we came from to where we are now,” she said. “Being in that group, I felt like I was around people who are similar to me, which made me happy,” Wright started going to RCC in 2022 and plans to graduate with an associate degree in arts by 2025.
This project was realized thanks to the generous support of multiple stakeholders. RCC allocated $20,000 for the initiative, while J Freeman, Inc in Dorchester graciously donated the composite panels used for painting. Additionally, the Sherwin-Williams store in Jamaica Plain contributed the required paint, ensuring the mural’s long-lasting vibrancy. New England Business Supply provided the fabric for the unveiling.