Black leaders, next generation meet in City Hall event

Former State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, shown in the House chamber, is one of several prominent leaders of color featured in “Portraits of Purpose:Next Generation,” a multi- media performance that will be staged in Boston City Hall on Thursday. Don West photo

Kicking off the celebration of Black History Month in Boston, “Portraits of Purpose: Next Generation” will be held on Thursday, February 8 on seven stages at Boston City Hall. The celebration will commemorate the past and present leaders of color and anticipate the next generation.

High school students from the Boston Public Schools, who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, will be passed the “torch of justice” from the present leaders of the African-American community in Boston, including Dr. Lindsa McIntyre, former Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, Jackie Jenkins-Scott, Paul Goodnight, Andrea Cabral, Freida Garcia, Wyatt Jackson, J. Keith Motley, and more.

These leaders will become storytellers and will perform an original theater presentation written and directed by Elaine T. Koury, artist, educator and founder/former director of Boston Youth Theater.

Koury was inspired by the Don West’s exhibits and book, Portraits of Purpose: A Tribute to Leadership, co-authored with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Kenneth J. Cooper. Their book captures 110 iconic images and stories of African-American leaders and their diverse allies who have spearheaded the advancement of the black community in Boston.

“By giving voice and presence to the Black community’s struggle to make Boston a more just and equitable city for all, we encourage students to overcome obstacles in the practice of their rights and in pursuit of their dreams,” said Libbie Shufro, the director of Portraits of Purpose Educational Initiative and event producer.

In conjunction with West and Cooper’s vision, Next Generation will tell a story through projected images to animate and bring back to life the chapter of people’s history that were often overshadowed by the racial violence that emerged in Boston around the 1960s and 1970s.

“This event uses arts and dialogue to shine the light on next generation leaders for social change,” said Shufro. “We hope it will inspire and challenge high school students to get involved in taking on the issues most important to them.”

African-American leaders and their allies for social change featured in photographer Don West’s exhibit and book of the same name—as well as West himself and his co-author, Cooper—will be honored at this celebratory event taking place from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on Thurs., Feb. 8.

West’s photos from the exhibit and subsequent book will be on display for the month of February at Boston City Hall.