Two events this weekend celebrate women of color and other underrepresented peoples:

Maria Baldwin, circa 1885. (Photo: Library of Congress)

Women’s Equality Day honors Baldwin

Maria Baldwin and other African-American suffragists of Massachusetts will be honored Friday in Boston. If you’re not familiar with Baldwin – namesake of the elementary school on Oxford Street – she was the first black female school principal in the Northeast (in 1917, “the most distinguished position achieved by a person of negro descent in the teaching world of America,” W.E.B. Du Bois said). It took protests from African Americans to earn Baldwin, born before the Civil War, the post at the Agassiz School, and during her decades there she would manage a white faculty and student body. Prominent students included poet E.E. Cummings. In the early 2000s, a discussion over the racist beliefs of Harvard anthropologist Louis Agassiz ended with the school being renamed for Baldwin.

The free Women’s Equality Day 2019 celebration of “Sheroes: African American Suffragists of Massachusetts” including Baldwin, Sojourner Truth and Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin (buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in 1924) takes place from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Swan Boats Landing in the Boston Public Garden. Among those speaking at the event are Tanisha M. Sullivan, President, NAACP Boston Branch. Information is here.

Oompa released her sophomore album, “Cleo,” on Aug. 9. (Photo: Ally Schmaling Photography)

Black, Brown & Queer: Not another fluff fest

The first Black, Brown & Queer Festival is Saturday in Somerville’s Union Square, a partnership between poet and rapper Oompa (named Unsigned Artist of the Year at the 2018 Boston Music Awards) and the Somerville Arts Council to celebrate QTPOC (queer, trans and person of color) culture and art. Oompa curates the bill for entertainment and serves as host – but any performance will likely lead with tracks from “Cleo,” the album she released just Aug. 9. The lineup of rap, poetry, punk and drag performances includes DJ Lady Ly, Porsha Olayiwola, Golden, Red Shaydez, Brandie Blaze, Paper Citizen, Neon Calypso, Neon BLK and Just JP. The bold, inaugural fest, which will have to contend with the obstacles of ongoing construction snarling access to the square, also features visuals artists and vendors.

The first Black, Brown & Queer Festival is from 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday (with a Sunday rain date) in Union Square Plaza, 90 Union Square, Somerville. Free. Information is here.


This story was corrected Aug. 21, 2019, to clarify that Oompa’s primary stated role at the Black, Brown & Queer Festival is as host and curator, not perf0rmer.

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