Blackstonian | City of Ideas
Issue to be Addressed:
Blackstonian: A word used to symbolize the spirit and culture of Black Bostonians. We created the Blackstonian newspaper as a community information service for the Black, Latino, Cape Verdean and other Peoples of Color in Boston and the surrounding areas. However, the Blackstonian serves not only as a much needed voice for the concerns of communities of color, especially in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan, but also as catalyst for civic and community engagement, activism and empowerment. The Blackstonian tackles critical issues that directly affect our constituents and provides crucial information and analysis, spearheading action and building coalition.
The Blackstonian produces physical newspapers (currently, just around special issues), a resource-packed website, radio and video segments and other printed and graphic materials (flyers, info-graphics, handouts, posters, tracts, etc.) for disseminating crucial information. We are also at the forefront of mobilizing and organizing our community via events that educate, activate and engage our people on current issues facing our community. Through our Community Town Hall Forums and rallies across the state, we have brought together dozens of organizations and thousands of people to address a wide range of issues and produced concrete results and changes in policy.
The Blackstonian currently is a strictly grassroots operation. With no formal funding, we have been able to disseminate crucial information and spark conversations, action and change across the state on issues like 3 strikes, violence and guns in our communities, the conduct of the police and their treatment of people of color, education, the correctional system, CORI reform, redistricting and political representation, unemployment, diversity – you name it. We have the benefit of wide community support, love and appreciation for the work we do and want to build our capacity and organization.
With proper funding and support The Blackstonian could be a sustainable organization that employs and mentors youth, puts out a physical paper on a consistent basis, has a stronger presence online, has a physical presence in the community and a greater capacity to educate, empower, inform, organize and uplift our people, in particular our youth. By further developing not only the Newspaper and Web Site but also Blackstonian TV and Radio and our partnerships with other local community media outlets like Boston Color TV, Touch 106.1 FM, Boston Praise Radio and others, we are building a lasting mechanism to inform and empower communities of color.
Role of Collaboration:
Collaboration is an essential part of what we do. As grassroots organizers we often have to merge people and organizations from various fields of expertise to achieve a specific goal or highlight an important issue. In this case we will be combining the forces of the Blackstonian (representing the coalition of community organizations and allies we work with), MAMLEO (representing the non-profit sector and Law Enforcement) and Scope Urban Apparel (representing local youth-owned business) and all of our respective networks.
BLACKSTONIAN will act as lead organizer to recruit and train youth to work in various capacities on this project. ie; computers, printing, web, community organizing, press, etc. BLACKSTONIAN would also oversee and coordinate the overall project.
MAMLEO has graciously agreed to provide space as needed for internal organizational meetings as well as larger public gatherings. MAMLEO has also agreed to produce its own newspaper which we would also train youth on. This would also provide an opportunity for youth to interact with Black & Latino law enforcement officials in a different environment potentially improving and building relationships.
SCOPE URBAN APPAREL will focus primarily on assisting with public awareness and promotional campaigns. Scope is known for its creative team and we have worked together in the past to create stunning visualizations of critical information in print, web and even t-shirts.
We operate off of a mentorship model currently, where young men have learned and experienced every aspect of the Blackstonian, eventually taking on leadership roles and mentees of their own. With funding and support we could expand this, bringing in new groups of youth with a systematic program to introduce them to every skill and side of the work we do. Beyond directly employing and mentoring individual young men of color and empowering them to effect change in their own lives and communities, we will be building an institution dedicated to the education, engagement, representation and uplifting of all Black and Brown Bostonians. Not only will we be giving specific youth real skills, experience and support, we are strengthening communities of color as a whole and developing our own community resources and organizations as a means to address our needs. The Blackstonian has already achieved a significant and positive impact on the lives of people of color in the city and the policies that affect quality of life issues. We are confident that with increased capacity, we would have an even greater effect and ability to increase our outreach to include more people.
The Blackstonian has been successful in many past endeavors, all of which were led by youth and adults of color. Over the years we’ve had quite a few proud moments:
-Fed over 600 people
-Taken our small community news source to a global audience through internet and syndication
-Fought on frontlines against 3 Strikes in MA, distributed over 10,000 newspapers statewide
-Received local & national media attention for our work
-Stopped the Herald’s distribution of a publication selling guns
-Successfully fought the proposed BPD “Safe Homes Initiative”
-Produced significant cultural events like bringing the legendary Last Poets to Roxbury for Juneteenth
-Organized community meetings with hundreds of attendees
-Held large scale gatherings like 10,000 Strong Boston which united community with organizations, clergy and elected officials to address an array of issues
-Provided support and assistance to countless community members facing an incredible range of issues from hunger to unemployment, dealing with police brutality to advocating for basic city services
-Mentored dozens of youth who have gone on to become the leading youth activists in the city, who are now mentoring their own youth, becoming part of a multi generational chain of mentorship and activism
Jamarhl Crawford is the editor / publisher of the Blackstonian and a community activist. The Blackstonian is a news and information resource for communities of color in Boston and beyond and a leader in community organizing and coalition building efforts.
The Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers (MAMLEO) represents officers of Color across the state with the mission 1) to secure all legal rights and affirmative action goals and privileges for minorities. 2) Endeavor to improve law enforcement relationships with the communities at large. 3) Evaluation of policies and programs within the criminal justice system and their effect upon the communities at large. 4) To establish the free and rapid flow of pertinent information or promotional and educational opportunities which are available to all members and the community. 5) To elevate, protect and work for the good and welfare of the membership and community at large 6) To encourage and aid in the enlistment of minorities into the law enforcement/criminal justice profession.
Scope Urban Apparel is a youth-owned clothing company that aims to empower and educate, promoting literacy, activism, critical thinking and an open mind by creating outstanding, original, and quality clothing. Scope and their partners (designers, other local businesses and community organizations) have collaborated heavily with the Blackstonian lending critical support to many joint projects and frequently utilize the information and resources that the Blackstonian provides in their own efforts to raise consciousness in the community.