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Roxbury Unity Parade celebrates local luminaries

Yawu Miller
Yawu Miller is the former senior editor of the Bay State Banner. He has written for the Banner since 1988.... VIEW BIO
Roxbury Unity Parade celebrates local luminaries
Isaura Olivera (left) leads her dance troupe on Malcolm X Boulevard. BANNER PHOTO

A break in the rain Sunday provided an ideal opportunity for scores of celebrants to march in the Roxbury Unity Parade, an event meant to highlight the residents of the neighborhood.

U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley addresses a gathering at Madison Park High School during the kick off for the Roxbury Unity Parade

Acting Mayor Kim Janey, currently one of Roxbury’s most prominent citizens, provided a keynote address, as the marchers congregated at Madison Park Vocational Technical High School.

“I am a Roxbury girl,” she proclaimed to the audience on Malcolm X Boulevard. “Raised in rich, black soil.”

The event was founded four years ago by Roxbury resident Toye Burton. During an awards ceremony prior to this year’s march, prominent Roxbury residents were recognized, including performer Michael Bivins, whose award was received by No Books, No Ball founder Anthony Richards, Sr.

Percussionists with the Isaura Olivera dance troupe. BANNER PHOTO

While the neighborhood has seen its share of demonstrations over the past year, U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley said it’s important for Roxbury residents to join in celebration.

“Our bonds as a community cannot just be forged only in the act of struggle,” she said. “This is an opportunity for celebration.”

With open City Council seats and a race for an open mayor’s seat, the parade took on a decidedly political bent this year. Campaign contingents outnumbered the cultural participants in the parade. Among those present were mayoral candidates John Barros, Andrea Campbell, Annissa Essaibi George, Janey and Michelle Wu.

Candidates for the at-large, District 4 and District 7 seats also had contingents in the parade. Pressley said the abundance of candidates spoke well for Roxbury.

“The reason so many candidates are here is because of our political power,” she said. “Our voters are powerful.”

The parade proceeded along Malcolm X. Boulevard to Washington Street, terminating in a festival at Malcolm X. Park.