What will it take to bring us together as a people and as a nation?
America is hurting in so many ways. The novel coronavirus is killing more people every day. Each one of us will be touched by the loss of someone near to us or that of a friend or family member.
What can we do to get through these very challenging times?
We can pray, be kind, refocus on what is really important. Let’s face it: Life is precious and life is short.
Bill in his younger days when he painted/created American flags with the community all over Worcester County/America. One of his public art 🇺🇸🇺🇸 …
Just the other day we were facing the devastation of the attack on America with 911 in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. – that was nearly 20 years ago. Then the Mid East wars … Now this pandemic. It is not going away any time soon, and Washington politicians better realize it. The Pandemic of 1916-1920s killed more than half a million Americans … This one has killed more than 132,000 …
I hope to help America by helping us be better people. The movement to finally end systemic racism in every day practice will not let up.
Bill with helpers …
I hope and embrace the effort of us as Americans to see our past and create a new future that breaks the chains that have held us to a sub-human and second class status as a people. For that I have, over the years, painted the American flag on rusted old fences (with permission from local governments), walls, etc in Worcester and 16 states – from Hiram, Maine, to Kauai, Hawaii.
Worcester had six of my flags at one time. Now there is just one a fence on Frontage Road, off Lincoln Street.
The good people of Philadelphia invited me to paint an American flag on a 150-foot fence of the
American Legion Ball Field in North East Philadelphia. The summer campers dedicated the flag by saying the Pledge of Allegiance at its dedication.
I hope we come together as caring Americans with a bright future. It will take time and patience, but some day we will all be able to “BREATHE.” Black Lives Matter for all.
– William S. Coleman III
REPARATIONS – NOW
By Rosalie Tirella
HARRIET: Watch this movie tonight!
RIP, John Lewis.🇺🇸🇺🇸 To honor a GREAT AMERICAN, ONE OF OUR CIVIL RIGHTS ICONS, America must begin to make reparations.
Let us start with FREE PUBLIC UNIVERSITY AND COMMUNITY COLLEGE FOR ALL AFRICAN AMERICANS in our country. DESCENDANTS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN SLAVES. A beginning. … I watched the film HARRIET two nights ago. …
HARRIET DVD cover♥️
Wonderful film – not as harrowing or intense as it could have been, but the filmmakers said they wanted their movie HOPEFUL. And it is. It is rated PG 13 – perfect for all junior and senior high students. Should be shown in all American schools – public and private. THE BRUTAL REALITY WAS CONVEYED in this beautifully acted movie – it MADE ME REALIZE WE NEED TO MAKE REPARATIONS. Now. Please watch this movie with your kids this weekend!
Here in Worcester we can begin with FREE Worcester State University and Quinsigamond Community College for all DESCENDANTS OF SLAVES. Our Black brothers and sisters. NOW. White folks, especially our fat glue pot politicians, know how to make the system work for them. They must SHARE THE WEALTH. Former Worcester District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller made all the right calls and got her daughter a history professor job at Worcester State University (WSU) on the West Side. T and G ACE COLUMNIST Jim Dempsey (he told me) COULD NOT GET A TEACHING JOB at WSU WHEN HE RETIRED FROM THE NEWSPAPER – that is how “connected” you must be – but operator/political Haller got her daughter in alright. Her daughter is even head of the professors’ union…more politics. Haller’s daughter has a great job, great pay – for life. Pathetic. … WHY NOT HAVE BARBARA’S DAUGHTER – WHOSE KID IS NAMED HARRIET – give back? Why not have her do the right thing and PUSH FOR FREE COLLEGE CLASSES AND BOOKS for all of Worcester’s Black, African Americans at WSU? Now. The City must follow thru. … WHITES HAVE FEATHERED THEIR NESTS FOR CENTURIES. Haller and her daughter are a bold example of that. Why not have them do FOR Worcester BLACKS WHAT Babs DID FOR her DAUGHTER?
I am an American!! I can say that, not because I was born here (I was not), but because I have my citizenship papers to prove that I am legally an American citizen. For those who are born here and are granted that great privilege, this may not mean much; many take for granted what citizenship in America means. But for those few of us remaining who, like me, escaped Germany before World War II, having that recognition means a great deal!
One of the horrors visited upon those of us whose families fled Germany during or before Hitler took over was that he took away our citizenship, making us legally “non-persons” – unable to get visas and under the protection of no other government. We lived for decades in that state, and it was only by the greatest luck that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established a special immigration group (called “political refugees”) that we were able to get out of Europe and come to America. Many of us are eternally grateful not only for our lives here, but also for all the opportunities we have enjoyed in America. And we always remember the debt we owe!
I write this in a time of upheaval in our country, of change, and of uncertainly for many. But on this Fourth of July I am more mindful than ever for what we have here and ought to treasure as Americans. We have so many freedoms! We can move about freely, think and believe pretty much what we please, live in all sorts of places and ways and styles … and we worship our gods or nature in a thousand different ways. In America, there are few limits on how we dress, how we talk, what we do with the 24-hours a day we all have.
We take a lot of these “inalienable rights” for granted because we exercise them daily.
But for those of us who were not born with all this, there is always the constant awareness of how easily it can be lost.
So my own greatest duty as an American is to daily exercise all the responsibilities that go with being an American: I treasure and take care of my home, appreciate my neighbors, read my local newspaper, keep an eye on our elected officials, and vote in every election. I try to be a positive addition to America – this land that has sustained me for over 75 years!
We Americans have a lot of freedoms and rights, but there seems to be too little attention to our responsibilities. Many of us who came here brought our special knowledge and culture with us and shared what was worth saving and adopted new ways as we learned. Being an American means constantly improving, being open to new ideas, while also holding on to those concepts that work.
The majority of us, young and old, still hold to the values that characterize the best of America. But we are going through what I believe is a bad spell, a wrong turn of the ship of state, which seems to be showing signs of slowly righting itself. As a retired school teacher, I look to our young people, many of whom are seeking a better way to steer the ship of state, more in line with the values expressed in our “Declaration of Independence” – but which need to be redefined and revived.
In an imperfect world, full of imperfect humans, we still have all kinds of opportunities to turn from the crass materialism, egotism, abuse of our planet and unfairness of our economic and social systems! We can create “a more perfect union,” with liberty and equality for all!
To me, that is what it means to call myself an American.
OUR GREAT AMERICAN CHALLENGE
BY BILL COLEMAN
In his younger days, Bill painted American flags in public spaces all over Worcester! Here he is with a finished 🇺🇸
Our Declaration of Independence starts with a clear message to King George of Great Britain:
“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds that separated them from another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of Nature’s God entitled them a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
When the framers of our Declaration of Independence wrote these words, they were sending a clear message that the people of the fledgling America were no longer going to take injustices any more, from King George on down, and that self-determination would be the law of our their new land.
Today the George Floyd-inspired protests and protest movements are saying the same thing, with new generations of Americans tired, exhausted and frustrated with the lack of progress to eliminate the injustices of systemic racism – in our communities, schools, work places and federal, state and local governments.
We have had it!
Racial injustice from Police Brutality will no longer be an acceptable norm.
Young people have no tolerance for it or the patience to sit back and wait for their turn.
In August of 1963, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, in his “I have a Dream” speech called on the American government to make things right for a previously enslaved people who were being denied voting rights, as well as accommodations in stores, restaurants, public transportation … access to good jobs, housing and quality education.
These issues are still here with us!
King George and his unfair orders and laws for the new Americans may have been the focal point for our American Revolution. Today it is racist attitudes and laws and images that make you feel that no progress has been made.
Black Lives Matter now more than ever! We can no longer and will no more accept the suggestions that “Things will change.” CHANGE MUST HAPPEN NOW.
Our prison system and the pipeline that feeds young lives to its institutions are broken and must be fixed. The waste of human brain power must be promoted and encouraged. For God’s sake, stop killing Black people in their homes for no reason!!
Worcester has had its George Floyd problems. Long standing prominent Black Worcester families can tell you their stories. Our Constitution gives us the right to assemble, protest, petition government and demand that we as a people change for the better. I believe: “Our greatest challenge is to open our hearts and our minds and stop the ugly growth of bigotry and hypocricy that continues to stop any progressive enhancements of our society.”
People of all races and ages: Keep on protesting! Keep on petitioning government at all levels … change laws, add new ones! A new and greater America, with all of its diverse people showing the way, can and will lead the world!
Worcester’s Birthday Cake 168 Years as a City. A city booster, Bill has helped coordinate lots of Worcester celebrations!
On Trump’s July Fourth Mount Rushmore Speech😓😓
By Rosalie Tirella
The real Trump
I just watched President Donald Trump bloviating at the iconic Mount Rushmore. Gave his Big Fourth of July speech that was totally removed from the America we are living in NOW: the global COVID 19 epicenter where nurses go into the emergency room wearing garbage bags and there is no testing or contact tracing or science; the George Floyd “lynching,” Americans of all colors demanding the restructuring of our militaristic police departments. … WE ARE IN PAIN. TRUMP IS OBLIVIOUS TO OUR PAIN. A chimp out of time. … And where does such a small man get such an inflated ego?! To put himself on the same stage as TR, Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson. No! Make that: to make them his backdrop!! … Teddy Roosevelt was a voracious reader and wrote book after book. Lincoln is one of our greatest writers and visionaries. He’d be the first to admit: Trump is a moron. A dangerous demagogue.
It was a kooky, hateful speech. The usual Trump verbal sh*t show. Trump crowed: per his new executive order, anyone who throws a can of paint at a Confederate general statue (built not to honor the generals but to shore up the KKK, Jim Crow segregation …) gets 10 years in prison! And the Trumpster added: NO ONE WILL EVER TEAR DOWN MOUNT RUSHMORE!!! Thanks for reassuring us, Donald! …To which one of the hundreds of non-mask-wearing audience members replied: BUILD THE WALL! BUILD THE WALL!! And the one voice ballooned into a racist threat chanted by all. Scary.
Our moron in chief struggled to spit out “totalitarian,” “Ulysses” and pronounced mayhem “may-HAM.” Well, the ham in the White House ended his twisted American hoohah history lesson with Neil Young’s ROCKIN’ IN THE FREE WORLD. Not knowing that Young stands against everything Trump and his base are for. After all, Young wrote “Southern Man,” and the song Trump blared was meant to be a kick in the teeth to President Bush 1 with his “thousand points of light” platitudes in an America of homeless guys near garbage cans, unwed, drug-addicted mothers with babies in their arms who will never get to go to school, grow up cool: Trump’s dystopian America of carnage and wasted human potential.
I remember picking up my first copy of InCity Times 19 years ago – seems like the other day!
It was exciting to have another newspaper in the city of Worcester to compete with the telegram and Worcester magazine and many other newspapers that were coming about, but not challenging the status quo.
I had a feeling the passion of its founder, publisher/editor/chief salesperson/delivery gal Rosalie Tirella, would drive this publication – that this paper was going to be the one that had legs and would stick around. Why? Because of the way she would gather content and the feelings of a community who felt lost and abandoned … from the issues that kept them stifled in their willingness to speak out against neighborhood Injustices.
Oh, the established media types of the day and its writers didn’t give Rose a chance in the beginning! They thought she would fall flat and fail, but they didn’t know that this young woman with a passion in her heart for our Worcester Neighborhoods would fight and challenge the city’s status quo.
Rose went on the attack when they went after her personally, and those who are no more than faded journalistic names in a Dewey Decimal System in a library are not part of the conversation that we’re having in this community – our long history gone – but Rose is still here as a long established journalist who has successfully survived.
I have written many articles for InCity Times and have had welcome feedback from many segments in the Worcester community, some for its humor “What Makes You Happy, Worcester?” or “Mine is Bigger than Yours” and then, “Black Like Me Worcester,” a political history of the political involvement of Worcester and its Communities of color.
Bill’s cover story for ICT
This editorial space would never have been afforded by the mainstream media.
Today in our world we talk about finally ending racism and addressing the issues of police brutality, lack of job opportunities and affordable housing.
As we are grateful to have a voice in InCity Times and CECELIA newspapers and incitytimesworcester.org, we are even more grateful to have an editor – Rose – who understands the pulse of people’s heart and the climate in our communities, today 2020.
Through the publication of CECELIA and InCity Times newspaper and their above website, we have a permanent record of the events of our times – Worcester and the world. History will forever remind those in the future looking at what we did to improve the lives of people in our city neighborhoods.
InCity Times will be a part of that archive. Congrats, Rose, and thank you.
Bill Coleman, right, and James Bonds working to get the World War II Black Honor Roll monument re-erected! pic submitted
Strange and challenging times, these COVID-19 days, weeks, possibly months. I called upon my family to help me, to give me guidance, to let me know how they’re feeling as we are living in our communities and our country, the world … As we ALL experience the devastation of microbes killing Harmony – hospitalizing so many of us, killing thousands, too.
I asked my son, who lives in California, to tell me his feelings. I asked my daughter who told me a few weeks ago that this is something like none of us will have ever seen in our lifetimes. I asked her to share, to continue to share her thoughts with me. I asked my extended family to share with me their thoughts and their feelings about what’s going on in this world today. How they are DOING!
I believe that this is the time that we really need to look to our fellow humans and to reach out to each other – and to talk about what’s going on.
To know our history is to know our present and future. But today we have an opportunity not to judge what’s going on but to think about what we mean to each other. Life is so precious and so limited in time! We could be here today and gone tomorrow! What will we have learned?
If we look at our past histories … of things that have happened in this world: the swine flu, AIDS, the Bubonic Plague, the Influenza Virus of 1916 to 1920 … so many people died during those times. If we look at wars that we have participated in or by reading articles in the newspaper or listening to conversations on the radio or even following breaking news on the Internet … when do we get a chance to really express how we feel to people in our family or our close friends?
As I look back and read old newspapers and try to find newspaper articles to get the feelings of people years ago as they experienced these different pandemics, all the suffering, I find things have not changed all that much in the way people have reacted and interacted with each other. How many can remember the scourge of Polio? There are a lot of articles about polio and how families felt when one of their children was diagnosed with it. What were the feelings of FDR – President Franklin Delano Roosevelt – when, in his late 20s, he was diagnosed with Polio? What was that like? Did it make him a better, a GREAT, President? I think YES!
I remember what it was like during the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic was running rampant – people didn’t understand. They were accusatory of a certain gender of individuals, saying: Oh, this is God’s Wrath on Them. Then we found out it was a simple disease … Or how about people coming down with the swine flu, the bird flu – all these different types of illnesses that were affecting our society? Some of us stood in judgment. How can we stand in judgment? When we look at the Ebola crisis that happened in parts of Africa, when we look at the illnesses because of infected water that happens in our country … HOW CAN WE JUDGE????
When we look at people who are victims of constant War – 24 hours a day – in various countries. It is still going on, and there are cries to end the wars, but the bombs do not stop!
If we can learn anything from COVID 19, we realize that there are no borders that can stop us from getting sick or dying from some force greater than our inability to care. Every once in awhile it seems like we all need a wake-up call. Then maybe our society, the world, will change for the better.
Maybe during this holy time of Passover and Easter we can fight the ills of our society by kindness – not judgment. Maybe, just maybe, 100 years from now, people will look back and see what happened in our society and say: They did their best. They did what they had to do.
And they were kind to each other.
Bill Coleman today … at the Woo Sox stadium groundbreaking celebration.
From Chef Joey:
ROMAN STYLE GNOCCHI♥️!
Missing our chef!
We all seem to keep using the same side starches: rice, noodles, pilaf, potato, mashed potato. How about polenta?
Simple corn meal! Cook according to the package directions and add a bouillon cube – either vegetable or chicken.
If you want to add protein, as it is cooking, add 2 beaten eggs to the mix. Spread it out and let it chill. Cut into cubes and layer a pan. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for 20 minutes until heated through. Serve! Simple and delicious! It tastes great with pasta sauce, too! Even pesto!
Longtime Worcester political and community activist Bill Coleman, seated right, today! Photo: Bill Coleman
Adding names to the Honor Roll … pic: B.C.
The Worcester Citizens of Color Honor Roll Monument that is at the intersection of Belmont Street and Lincoln Street, across from the Worcester Police Station, is there to honor the service of Worcester citizens of color, who in 1941, enlisted in the United States Military Services – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines – to fight for our country at the beginning of World War II.
The establishment of this Honor Roll came after our citizen soldiers were not able to march both white and black to Union Station to go off to bootcamp to prepare for serving the United States of America back in the early 1940s. All armed services were segregated, and black soldiers were told they could not march with the white soldiers. That’s just the way it was, and they would have to wait another day or hours after the white soldiers hit march to go off to Union Station.
Worcester built and erected a new monument a few years ago. The ceremony … pics: Ron O.
The colored citizens of Worcester Honor Roll Momument stood from 1942 until 1958, when it was removed along with other monuments that were in the path of the construction of the Route 290 highway in Worcester.
In 1958 it was promised that when Route 290 was completed, all monuments were going to be re-established and put up. All the monuments were – except for the one that honored the Worcester citizens of color. It was told to our black community that it was placed in storage in 1961.
Some in the Worcester community remember seeing it be put into a dumpster and being hauled away, never to be seen again.
Bill Coleman’s cover story for us – many years ago!♥️♥️♥️
In 1976, I worked in Washington DC as a legislative aide to Mass United States Senator Edward W. Brooke, the first African American elected by popular vote to the United States Senate.
Being from Worcester and on an internship from my studies at Worcester State College, Senator Brooke gave me a letter of introduction and sent me to meet with Worcester city officials and clergy from Worcester’s Black churches to dicuss and report back on the status of the missing monument.
Bill and US Senator Brooke
Back in 1976 more than 70 members whose names were on the Honor Roll shared their storis of pride they felt for our communities of color.
There was never much of a rallying cry from the Black church and the community to find the Honor Roll. This was the 1960s, and around the country we had the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Women’s Movement and a City that did not see the issues of our Black community as a priority, as shared with me by church and black community leaders.
Reaching out to our vets. Pic: BC
I met with the then Worcester City Manager Francis R. McGrath and presented him with my letter of introduction from Senator Brooke requesting a formal investigation into the missing Colored Citizens Honor Roll. The city manager responded that he would look into it and get back to Senator Brooke … . My time as an aide to Senator Brooke ended in 1978, and I returned to Worcester to complete my studies at Worcester State College.
I would meet with World War II Black Veterans who would say to me: What ever happened to the Honor Roll? I would respond that the City of Worcester is still looking for it!
The ceremony: the NEW monument was designed and built by Worcester Technical High School students
Some of our military veterans lived to see the day when we rebuilt and rededicated the Honor Roll monument!
Through many City Councils and City Managers I would file petitions and speak in Black churches asking for help – over 40 years! – for the re-establishment of the Honor Roll.
It was not until I filed a petition in 2015 that the community and our present day city manager, Edward M. Agustus Jr., took note. Augustus said: I want to help. Along with City Councilor Morris “Moe” Bergman and the support of veterans from across Worcester County the monument was rebuilt – the story was told!
Bill and US VETERAN JAMES BOND at a City meeting to rebuild the Honor Roll Monument
The city celebrated!
Then the Central Mass AFL-CIO committed to funding the project for replacing what was once put up. The AFL-CIO conditioned that the students of Worcester Technical High School be a major part of this project. So, after nearly 60 years of the Colored Citizens of Worcester Honor Roll gone missing, the City of Worcester, on December 7, 2017, unvailed a new Worcester Citizens of Color Honor Roll. The ceremony is availible to see on the city’s video website.
Recently, a suggestion has been made to add the names of our Black Veterans who were not on the original Honor Roll – to give them the respect they deserve for their service to our Country.
Wow. How could we have forgotten about Bill Coleman and our very own mayor – Joseph Petty – when we posted our political endorsements yesterday?
This morning we woke up …
… and remembered! pic: R.T.
VOTE FOR JOSEPH PETTY – our mayor and city healer: the politician who brings us all together, a man WHO IS FOR ALL OF US – Woo’s poor city kids, bike riders, school teachers, cops, environmentalists, small biz folks, the Paw Sox and their gentrifier boosters, the comfy, entitled middle class West Siders, the struggling Green Islanders …
The city is doing well on so many levels because we have a mayor that – unlike former Woo mayors Ray Mariano and Jordan Levy – doesn’t suck up all the oxygen in a room. Doesn’t have a big fat mouth like they did. Or a HUGE EGO. Or fight Konnie Luke’s proposals at every turn. Or hold grudges. Or get vindictive. Or stay provincial. Nope. Mayor Joseph Petty, who’s seeking re-election as councilor and mayor, just quietly brings people together – to build a better Worcester. And he’s not bizarrely ambitious like Tim Murray, now screwing the working guy and gal as executive director of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce. Nope. Joe wants everyone to WORK TOGETHER. For the benefit of our youth, our homeless folks, our minority WPS students, our city parks …
Joe’s a good person. Thoughtful. Easy to talk with. And he follows through.
VOTE FOR JOSEPH PETTY – CITY COUNCILOR AT LARGE. Mayor in November.
Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty at Worcester’s WPD Night Out in Main South. file photo: Ron O’Clair
VOTE FOR BILL COLEMAN!!
Yes, we know: This perennial city council candidate promised – like ol’ Gary Rosen – that he wouldn’t run for POLITICAL office again – that he’d hang up his VOTE BILL COLEMAN signs🇺🇸 for good. That he’d be the political elder statesman we hoped he’d become – advising young pols just coming up…
BUT NO…BILL, LIKE LEVY AND MARIANO, LOVES THE LIMELIGHT.
So, what the hell … VOTE FOR BILL COLEMAN, CITY COUNCILOR AT LARGE!
What has the City got to lose? Is D 3 City Councilor George Russell any more intelligent or impressive? What has LONGTIME political everything Gary Rosen done on our City Council these past two years? Not much. Kate Toomey? Loved by the WFD and WPD … but why???? Equally unimpressive.
William (Bill) Coleman IS A GOOD GUY WHO ACTUALLY DOES LOTS OF HANDS ON stuff for WORCESTER’S folks. He was a nutrition teacher for UMass Extension for many years – working with and running classes for our WPS students. And other city kids.
He’s painted American Flags 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 all over Worcester – and the East Coast.
He’s easy to talk with. He tries to help.
He gets involved with city projects, like our Lincoln Square monument to WORCESTER’S Fallen Black Soldiers …
He attends Worcester City Council meetings – often floating GREAT IDEAS. But sometimes there’s little follow through… Bill’s onto the next GRAND WORCESTER IDEA!
Billy knows all the Woo players. They’ve given him the cold shoulder for years! This is WRONG. Bill lives and loves WORCESTER, but our movers and shakers have frozen him out – like they have many Woo minorites through the years. Hopefully, city politics is changing – for the better.
Bill knows Worcester history. He is fascinated by our political past – not depressed like so many of us! He’s an optimist! That is a good thing!!
Here he is, years ago, putting up shelves in my first Woo apartment: Billy!🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 file pic: Rose T.
Billy worked hours that day – so nice to my dog Grace. So enthusiastic for the new InCity Times! He brought the 20 or so shelves and braces, and with his electric drill created a newspaper “morgue” in my spare bedroom.
I never forgot that – and his other favors through the years.
BILL HAS HELPED so many folks in Worcester! He deserves to be elected to city council to serve the City he loves!
VOTE 🇺🇸 WILLIAM COLEMAN III – CITY COUNCILOR AT LARGE!
YWCA, Salem Sq. (across from the main library)
Summer break is over for the Worcester NAACP, but the work never stops! Although we suspended our meetings for the month of August, many of our members have been hard at work advancing the cause of social justice and equity.
This month’s agenda will touch upon the work we are doing in the areas of economic development, education, health, energy, unity and honoring our veterans.
Please join us at our next meeting to see what we are doing and how you can make a difference in Worcester. Join the NAACP!
Below is the agenda for the meeting:
Colored Citizens of Worcester Honor Roll monument – Bill Coleman, Member at Large
Report back on progress and community concerns
Faith in Worcester Day of Prayer – Dr. George Yancey, 1st VP, Religious Affairs Chair
Update on Event schedule for Tues., September 27th @ 5:30pm, in front of City Hall
Prostate Cancer Awareness – Dr. Faina Shtern
Presentation to determine our interest in hosting a Prostate Cancer Awareness Event
Worcester Community Labor Coalition – Leonard Cooper, 3rd VP, Economic Development Chair
Report back on the Worcester Jobs Funds (Pre-Apprentice and Apprentice Training Programs) Graduates
TIF Policy – Report Back on efforts to increase the minority/women and low income percentages for Worcester residents hired on permanent jobs
Leadership Training: ESSA (Every Student Suceeds Act), Energy Leadership
Training Summary by attendees (Penny Mikunas, Education Co-Chair, Yvonne Brown, Secretary)
NAACP New England Area Conference Annual Meeting
Friday Sept. 23rd – Sunday Sept. 25th
Finalizing list of interested participants & voting for delegates
Upcoming Worcester NAACP elections
There’s plenty of room on our Common for Worcester’s planned memorial to our city’s fallen African American W W II soldiers. Right here, for instance – the Franklin Street side of City Hall. pics: R.T.
By Rosalie Tirella
… Why is Worcester’s planned memorial to our fallen African American W W II soldiers being erected at the Worcester Police Station?
Why not put the statue honoring our Black soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice right where it belongs? On the Worcester Common, along with all the other statues honoring Worcester’s fallen heroes?
There’s a slew of them on our Common – in the middle of our soon-to-be revitalized downtown! Around and behind Worcester City Hall … they adorn the grass and trees that surround them even as we try (at least on holidays) to adorn them – lay wreaths braided with flowers or pine at their feet. We walk or drive by the stone and iron soldiers if we work in or visit the heart of our city. They make you think … put aside your work, dining, shopping obsessions for a few fleeting seconds to see something greater – a person’s life story, a city’s story, world history. The stone and iron soldiers come alive!
You can even build the new memorial to our Black WW II soldiers next to our John Power WW II monument that stands right outside our City Hall. The monument to our Black WW II heroes – it was called the “Colored Citizens World War II Honor Roll Memorial” – was once located in our African American Laurel-Clayton neighborhood but disappeared, along with the neighborhood!, when the interstate highway was built. John Power is STILL with us – standing guard by Worcester City Hall (see my photo, above). So, truth be told, we will be building a new monument because we lost, destroyed, the old one! How can you “lose” a monument? What does that “loss” say about our city a few decades ago? Back then, how sacred to our city fathers were the memories of these dead African American soldiers – Black men from Laurel-Clayton, from Worcester?
Not very sacred at all.
Hell! There’s room for a tank or a couple of Jeeps to the right of the John Power statue. There John stands as the hip students walk by to get to their recently built dorms on Franklin Street …
Soldier Power doesnt look hip at all! He looks like your average WW II grunt – ditch digger, mucking around in stinking trenches with penecillin pills, canned spam in his knap sack – but a KILLER too. Make no mistake! See the rifle slung over Power’s right shoulder and the long dagger in his left hand? He’s clutching the dagger ready for the fight – hand to hand combat – to the death probably. How can any city deprive a Black soldier, who fought the same fight, the honor we’ve bestowed on John Power? Power’s helmet is on askew cuz he’s in battle. He looks Irish – and a little cockey. Why can’t we humanize our dead African American soldiers this lovingly?
Why can’t Worcester’s Black community have the same thing? A touching yet tough depiction of men in war in stone?
Why stick our Black soldiers at the bottom of Bell Hill, at the Worcester police station, in the middle of a 20-way intersection, surrounded by ugly concrete (we’re talking the police station, too!) – a place where few will visit, stop to honor these men, think about them? A place where drug dealers, robbers, rapists and killers are flung?
Yes, the police station is a stone’s throw from the old Laurel-Clayton neighborhood, razed and replaced by the Plumley Village low-income public housing complex, home to many people of color – Blacks, included. Why not – I’m certain residents would be honored -put the monument there? It would be back at its real home. Placed before the entrance way to the buildings and high rise, lots of folks would stop and pay their respects.
Or is that the point? The intention (maybe subconscious) of Worcester City Leaders? To keep the monument to our fallen Black WW II Soldiers out of the public eye – especially out of reach of the African American community?
And something else…to stop it from being a focal point, a symbol, a place for Blacks to gather, to remember, to rally, to teach … to protest. So often people come to their city or town common to express views, speech-ify … Protest! It’s been happening as long as there have been places where people chose to live together. A kind of gathering at the communal fire place! In America we’ve been doing it ever since our forefathers and mothers sailed into Plymouth Rock!
It’s happening still. All over. Especially with Black Lives Matter and, before that, Occupy Wall Street. It’s happening in Worcester. Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus has come down brutally hard on the BLM movement/rallies here, just as his predecessor City Manager I HATE ALL POOR RESIDENTS Mike O’Brien was hard with Occupy Wall Street protesters – refusing to meet with them, making sure they were off THEIR Worcester Common!
Would city leaders want a Black Lives Matter march to end at the “Colored Citizens World War II Honor Roll Memorial” on the Worcester Common? Would they want to see anyone give witness to pain, anger, racial discrimination in Worcester, “a city on the move”? Would they want a large crowd of folks agitating for change? In the middle of downtown?
Is this what John Power died for?
(P.S. Don’t let this happen, Bill Coleman and James Bonds!)
James Bonds and Bill Coleman at the WW II Vets of Color Honor Roll meeting. Make it happen, people! photo submitted.
By Gordon Davis
Actions speak louder than words and good actions have good effects. The City of Worcester, organized labor, the Department of Transportation and the Worcester Public Schools have acted in a good and anti-racist manner. They and other are cooperating to ensure the restoration of the “Honor Roll of Colored Veterans.”
The Honor Roll was a monument listing of the Black veterans who were in the military during World War II. It was removed by the State during the 1950s and seemingly lost forever.
Other ethnic and racial communities rightly have monuments. Recently, some in the Worcester Irish community honored the Easter Uprising by the Irish Republican Army against British rule in 1916. This was done at the Hibernian Cross at Worcester City Hall.
The efforts to replace the Black vets Honor Roll has been led by James Bond, a commander of a Veteran of Foreign Wars post and by Bill Coleman, a long time Worcester community activist and city booster.
In the Black community there is some anxiety about whether the Honor Roll would be replaced. It was only a week or so ago that a Worcester City Councilor Konnie Lukes attacked Bill Coleman for bothering the Worcester City Council with his petitions. City Councilor Michael T. Gaffney has made it his misguided mission to close a Black-run social agency among his other actions that some say are racist.
To be fair this project was approved unanimously, including votes by Councillors Lukes and Gaffney.
Councilor Morris “Moe” Bergman has worked on the planning and supported the project. He also supported the placement of a plaque honoring Worcester’s first Black City Councilor – Charles Scott.
The City of Worcester will help pay for the new Honor Roll, as well as allow it to be placed on a triangular plot near the Worcester Police Station. The land is on Belmont Street.
This is sort of a disappointment, as the original proposal was to put the Honor Roll at Worcester City Hall where it could be more easily seen.
Students from Worcester Technical High School will donate labor and build the Honor Roll.
The Central Mass. Labor Council, headed by Joseph Carlson, will help pay for the monument and donate the materials. The Department of Transportation will also contribute to the funding.
Hopefully, this will be a good sign for race relations in Worcester, which have suffered several hits in recent years. The City forced former Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone out of her job … the political retaliations against Blacklives Matter … and the intransigence regarding Worcester police accountability have left a bad taste and ill feelings for many.
I am thankful for the efforts of Messrs. Bonds and Coleman. I am thankful for the support of the City of Worcester, the State, organized labor and our techical high school students. I know that all are sincere and generous and working for a better society.
The next test for us is harder: There are real problems that have disparately bad impacts on the Black community and other communities of color or communities of low-income.
The replacement of the Honor Roll is a good thing in and of itself. Is it also a harbinger of better race relations.
The Worester City Council voted Tuesday night to restore or replace the Honor Roll of Colored Soldiers from Worcester who served in World War II. The vote was 11-0.
In 1943, when the Honor Roll was erected, the United States Armed forces were segregated. The so called “colored” soldiers (dark-skinned soldiers) were organized into separate units from the white soldiers. Latino soldiers were assigned units based on how light or dark their skin color was. Asian soldiers also were in separate units.
The Worcester Honor Roll was located in the Laurel Clayton section of Worcester, a neighborhood that was home to a large Black population. The neighborhood was displaced first by the building of Interstate 290 and later by the building of Plumley Village.
The people who lived in the Laurel Clayton neighborhood still keep in touch with each other. They used to have reunions, but the get-togethers occur less often, as the residents have aged.
Interstate 290 destroyed many neighborhoods in Worcester – including the large Jewish neighborhood around Water Street.
The restoration of the Honor Roll of Colored soldiers is important to the Black community of Worester, as the soldiers not only fought for their country against Fascism, but for their race in the constant struggle to prove equality and to gain acceptance.
Still, today the Honor Roll is a symbol of this struggle for justice and equality.
Idella Hazard, a Worcester resident whose family goes back to at least the Civil War, said at the City Council meeting that the City has accommodated the Italian community in the Shrewsbury Street area by preserving and moving – several times – the statue of Christopher Columbus. Ms. Hazard implied that not to restore the Honor Roll would be disparate treatment of Worcester’s Black community.
The VFW of mostly Black veterans led the process to get the Honor Roll restored. Mr. James Bonds, the VFW leader, spoke for the group at the Worcester City Council meeting. Mr. Bonds said it was an important issue for him and the Post. Members who have long-time roots in the city like Jack Toney and others were a force.
Community activist and Worcester booster Bill Coleman played an important role in putting the issue on the city council’s radar!
Mr. Bill Coleman played a major part as well in the publicity he gained for the restoration. The story appeared in more than 30 newspapers and on NPR.
The restoration will cost about $20,000. It was suggested that it be placed at Worcester City Hall. I would like it to be erected next to the bronze GI statute on the Franklin Street side of City Hall. Placement there would give both memorials additional meaning.
This is important to Worcester’s Black community. I know it is important to City Councilor King. It may be important to other Worcester city councilors, as well. Maybe the 11 to 0 council vote is a sign of less racism from city government – maybe not.
But I am happy that the memorial is being given a new life.