Music and social justice activism from HONK! The festival echoed in several areas of Greater Boston last weekend.
HORN! The activities of the 2021 Festival began last Saturday morning in Somerville, the historic seat of the music festival. The Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society Brass Band walked through Seven Hills Park from the bike path at 10:20 a.m. Located behind Davis Square Station, Seven Hills Park was also the site of a tribute ceremony for Somerville Olympian Phil Reavis Sr. and the representations of aNova Brazil and Honk’s school.
Harris Gruman, one of the HONK! Festival organizers see the festival as a “symbol of the direction Somerville is taking.”
After the performance of the Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society Brass Band, the group acknowledged that the festival took place on land that was “the stolen and colonized territory of the Wampanoag nations”.
The group made the following statement: “We celebrate the rich cultural heritage of our indigenous communities and we honor and respect the resilience and courage of indigenous peoples. We understand that mere recognition is insufficient, and we are committed to increasing our awareness of persistent injustices and to devoting our talent and resources to participating in corrective action where possible. “
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone also gave a speech in which he addressed the HONK celebrations! Festival of lives lost during the pandemic.
“It has been an honor and a privilege, and I will just take advantage – every day now and later – of these events, and we will soon emerge from these uncertain times,” said Curtatone. “We are much better than a year ago, but remember, however, that a lot of people are still in pain. There are a lot of people who have lost loved ones.
“Let’s not forget that there are a lot of other people here who are important to us, we will never be back,” he said.
Curtatone said that even in one of the wealthiest states in a country with abundant health resources, 91 citizens of Somerville, 18,000 people in Massachusetts and more than 700,000 Americans have lost their lives to the virus. .
The tribute ceremony ended with the Somerville HONK! Organizing committee for the festival honoring the legacy of Phil Reavis Sr., a 1956 Olympian from Somerville and a former student of Somerville High School. Somerville’s commemoration committee recently voted unanimously name the Somerville High School athletic field after Notice.
It is the first time that something in Somerville has been named after a person of color. Reavis Sr.’s son and grandson, Phil Reavis Jr. and Phil Reavis III accepted a plaque honoring lifelong accomplishments on his behalf.
The back of the plaque read “In recognition and appreciation for all you have done for Somerville – The Somerville HONK!” Festival organizing committee, October 9, 2021.
“We, the Reavis family, are very honored to be honored and awarded today by, once again, the greatest street festival of all time,” said Reavis Jr. “Sadly, Dad cannot be here, but he sends his love and appreciation, both for the town of Somerville [and] especially HONK! said Reavis Jr.
Performances by aNova Brazil and The School of Honk followed the tribute ceremony. Both groups encouraged crowd participation and invited people of all ages to dance with the orchestras.
At Foss Park in Somerville, Ghost Town Marching Band collaborated with the Somerville Climate Coalition for a Climate Social in which participants were encouraged to socialize, dance and learn about climate change and social justice related work in Somerville. The Somerville Know Your Rights Coalition, Mothers in the front, and Extinction Rebellion attended Climate Social to provide information resources and encourage Somerville residents to join or support their respective causes.
According to Larry Yu, one of the Climate Coalition organizers, the coalition was looking for opportunities to bring together Somerville City Council candidates with the community. Yu said both Somerville mayoral candidates Will Mbah and Katjana Ballantyne and city council candidate Jake Wilson were in attendance.
This year the festival has moved away from its historic roots in Somerville. The HONK! The festival has been decentralized from Davis Square to various locations in Somerville, Cambridge and Boston this year to avoid gathering thousands of people in one location. HORN! also performances broadcast live on Youtube during the day.
“This is the first time that the festival will be held in Roxbury,” said Cindy Diggs, whose efforts have helped decentralize the festival. “He got a lot of traction.
41-year-old peace activist known in town as’ Mother Hip-Hop ‘Diggs Did It'[her] personal mission to support the businesses of the place of Nubia.
Diggs was administrative coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) at the start of the pandemic and was responsible for integrating the Feeding the front lines efforts. She brought in her mother and her son Sun auntil she noticed that there were no black owned restaurants.
Diggs is deeply rooted in Roxbury, so she was concerned about the lack of support for mom-and-pop businesses in her community.
“These businesses didn’t get the same money as other restaurants, the businesses did, and they didn’t have the infrastructure to be able to do it on-site,” Diggs said. “We coming here and doing it – a popular way to get people to support business – is social justice. “
Diggs had collaborated with HONK! Founding member of the Reebee Garafalo festival for other activist work in the past. The two had known each other since Rock against racism. He was also a guest speaker at a running forum attended by doctors and nurses from the MGH that Diggs coordinated in August of last year.
With the help of allies like Boston City Councilor Julia Mejia, Diggs hosted another conference, this time inviting BPS to discuss the impact of the virus on young people with the return of classes in person. Both forums were held on the Nubian Square sites – Sun and Hibernian Hall, respectively.
Diggs and Garafolo have teamed up to film part of last year’s virtual event in Roxbury to showcase local businesses including Frugal Bookstore and Final Touch Boutique. Garafalo invited Diggs to join the committee, and she has been involved since January.
Use his place on the Honk! committee to make sure this year’s festival would give back to its community was a priority for Diggs. She called back HONK! participants to “make sure you buy things while you are here… to sow a seed in this community”.
She stressed that to revive the local economy, people need to return to work, and supporting local businesses and restaurants that employ people in the community is part of this recovery.
The festival has indeed drawn visitors and patrons to the area, including Patty Yehle, a Jamaica Plain resident who has lived in Boston for about 35 years.
“I was just looking for a store to go support while we waited for the music to start,” Yehle said.
For Damien Leach, who grew up in the neighborhood and showed up early to help with the setup, the day was an opportunity to bring healthcare resources and experts directly into his community.
Leach works in the Office of Equity and Community Health for the MGH and manages a community care van, which serves as a mobile health site. At HONK! Fest, the van was set up right next to MGH Brigham’s vaccine van. According to the Roxbury local, the vans synergize around the city as a strategy to provide accessible healthcare – to “connect on a real, heart-centered level, then have the resources here.”
“We want to build confidence not only to address the disparities that have been exacerbated by COVID-19, but we also want to meet the needs of the people who are in these communities,” Leach said. “[Vaccines and clinicians] come from these institutions and communities where we can collaborate and support members of our community.
Leach said tackling a pandemic that has had such a devastating impact on communities of color requires not only correcting misinformation, but also building confidence. The vans create an atmosphere of trust for patients by employing multilingual and multicultural clinicians of color as community messengers. Increased engagement also offers the opportunity to connect people with health care they may be missing, such as a primary care physician.
The volunteers hoped that the increased community engagement around social justice, cultivated through grassroots awareness by community organizations and nonprofits, would continue. Diggs hoped that increased activity in the neighborhood, which she saw as a daily move towards economic justice, would also persist.
“HORN! Won’t be here next weekend. Don’t make this area a ghost town,” Diggs said. “We want people to come back.