ACMi video, "Honoring Crispus Attucks," broadcast
in connection with Black History Month banners.

Black History Month banner, Martha Johnson

UPDATED Feb. 15: Fourteen banners celebrating Black History Month will be displayed throughout town—including Broadway Square and the Heights—during February, as unanimously approved Jan. 24 by the Select Board.

The banners, including ones from previous years along with new designs, will be appear on light poles along Mass. Ave. in East Arlington, Arlington Center and the Heights, explained Crystal Haynes, Arlington human rights commissioner. 

“This is the third year that the Arlington Human Rights Commission is hanging Black Lives Matter banners to celebrate Black History Month,” said Haynes. 

This year’s theme is “Youth Leading the Way.” Haynes said: “We invited Arlington High and Ottoson Middle school students to design banners because children have been involved in the blackr rights movement since the Birmingham Children’s March in 1963.”

In a memo to the Select Board, Haynes wrote, “Young people are at the center of the new civil rights movement, which now includes housing justice, food insecurity, school placement discrimination and health inequity.”

The Arlington Human Rights Commission and the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture encouraged Arlington students of color to participate because they rarely get recognition. Two designs were chosen from the Ottoson School, said Haynes. 

See ACMi's look at Malcolm X, among
those portrayed in banners.

Board member John Hurd said, “Everyone in town looks forward to the Black Lives Matter banners on Mass. Ave., and it’s amazing how much you can learn just driving down the street. It’s an effective way to celebrate Black History Month, and I look forward to seeing them.”

Member Eric Helmuth noted: “The scope of the art and topics are really impressive. The diversity of black history that’s being shown is delightful. I’ll be proud to see these banners hanging in my community.”

See agenda documents for this agenda item, including one showing all banners >>

Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019

Town Hall BLM banner requests 

During the meeting’s open forum, resident Melanie Francis spoke in favor of rehanging the Black Lives Matter (BLM) banner on Town Hall.

“Town Meeting members and Arlington residents voted to hang a BLM banner over Town Hall, but the banner is still not being hung. We have racism here, so we need something that symbolizes that this community and the black community do not stand for racism. My children attend a predominately white school, and showing a symbol of support is very important, especially today,” said Francis.

In a letter to the Select Board, Rebecca Gruber, Envision Arlington Diversity Task Group chair, also requested hanging the BLM banner on Town Hall.

“The Diversity Task Group recognizes that hanging the BLM banner on our Town Hall is largely symbolic—and is not the action required to dismantle structural racism. However, the banner’s presence on Town Hall would communicate to our residents and visitors that we strive for a welcoming community, especially recognizing and espousing that Black Lives Matter. 

“The Diversity Task Group is committed to making our town inclusive, to fostering awareness and community, and to creating safe spaces where all voices are welcome. The hanging of the BLM banner on our Town Hall is a reflection of this commitment,” wrote Gruber.

Watch the whole Jan. 24 meeting on ACMi:


Jan. 21, 2022: Board to investigate why double poles remain

This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, and updated Feb. 20, to add third ACMi video window.