The Neighborhood Strikes Back: Community Murals by Youth in Boston's Communities of Color



Community murals in US inner city neighborhoods offer popular, grassroots representations of local identities and their relation to urban space and community culture. They are powerful tools in building neighborhood solidarity across ethnic groups, generations, and defended gang territories. Designed primarily for local consumption, murals circulate dramatic, alternative representations of local identity, heritage and history, contesting attributions of stigma and danger promulgated in mainstream media. In Boston's Dudley Street corridor that crosscuts its Roxbury and Dorchester neighborhoods, both low-income communities of color, these themes are evident in the presence of a vibrant series of community murals lining the one-mile long street. Designed and painted by local youth under the sponsorship of grassroots community-based organizations, the murals give voice to urban youth's hopes, struggles, and aspirations for their individual and collective futures, from their positions in disadvantaged, multi-ethnic neighborhoods in a city sharply divided by race and class.