A Room Full of Sisters: The Boston Coalition of Black Women and Female Empowerment from the Ground Up

A Room Full of Sisters, 1993

A Room Full of Sisters, 1993 By Paul Goodnight 4’x5′ Mixed Media Commissioned by the Boston Coalition Of Black Women Inspired by Mona Lake Jones’s poem of the same name.

The celebration of Women’s History Month in America has only been around since 1987 (between 1981 and 1986, there was a Women’s History Week, before that…well it’s History). Despite this, women have been making history long before the 1980s and will continue to do so. Some in ways that garner national or international attention, and some that are closer to home but no less amazing. The Boston Coalition of Black Women began in 1991 as the Boston Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and became formally independent in 1998 with a mission to “provide leadership and resources that empower our members to advance our community through education, social, economic and civic action.” The Coalition achieved this goal through its various sponsored programs, talks and events. Its mentoring program “Sister-to-Sister” saw itself as a networking group to help Black women at every stage of the job market, from helping a woman get her GED to connecting them to the all-too-few black female c-level executives.  “Succeeding Sisters” was a program designed to help acclimate women returning to the workforce after a long absence. When those Sisters did succeed there was always a place and community for them to celebrate with. The Coalition’s “Rites of Passage” program celebrated those in the “Sister-to-Sister” program who graduated and events like the “Salute to Boston Police Women of Color.” The list of members reads like a who’s who of Female Black Excellence in Boston — Vivian Beard, a Massachusetts policy maker for 20 years; Joan Wallace Benjamin, CEO of The Home for Little Wanderers; Callie Crossley, journalist; Carolyn Golden Hebsgaard, Executive Director of Boston Lawyers Group; Karen Holmes Ward, WCVB Director of Public Affairs and Producer of CityLine; Deborah Jackson, Former CEO of Red Cross of Massachusetts and Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries; and Sarah Ann Shaw, the first African-American TV journalist in Boston — and that is just to name a few. The Boston Coalition of Black Women provided the kind of networking important for women in the workplace, not just for employment success, but for the community. As Roxane Gay says, “If you and your friend(s) are in the same field and you can collaborate or help each other, do this, without shame. It’s not your fault your friends are awesome.” While the Coalition is no longer active, the women who were involved are still out there changing the world, one life at a time creating a chain that cannot be broken. The Boston Coalition of Black Women Collection is just one of several archival collections Northeastern University holds that preserve the history of small organizations in the Boston area that made a huge impact in the day-to-day lives of ordinary people. As the quote from Margaret Mead, that appears on the Coalition’s annual reports, reminds us, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive – WBUR Oral History Project Announces Lesson Plans

In the wake of the events that occurred on April 15, 2013 at the 117th Boston Marathon and on April 19, 2013 in Watertown, Northeastern University English Professor Elizabeth Maddock Dillon and Assistant Professor Ryan Cordell recognized the obvious need for a space where people could tell and share their stories with each other.  They believed that sharing stories from survivors, families, witnesses, visitors to the city, and everyone around the world touched by the event will speed the healing process, and wanted to create that space as a gift to the community. Together, they established the Our Marathon: The Boston Bombing Digital Archive, a crowd-sourced, digital archive of pictures, videos, stories, and social media related to the Boston Marathon bombing.  Thus far, they have acquired an archive of almost 10,000 items, 3 interactive exhibits, and 3 major collections.


[April 21, 2013, from the Public Submissions collection]

This summer, I contributed to this remarkable endeavor as a Simmons School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) graduate summer intern sponsored by the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Department and supported by the Project Co-Director James McGrath. In addition to exhibit building and social media, the main task of my internship was to create lesson plans for schoolroom use. Because children were affected by this crisis as well, the team at Our Marathon thought it would help the healing process for children to use the Our Marathon archives—to remember and share stories in the safety of their own classrooms.  Additionally, it can be difficult for teachers to navigate the complex questions young students ask and a resource like the digital archive can work as a great tool to facilitate age appropriate discussion. To that end, I helped create a Teaching Resources page for Our Marathon. This page showcases five lesson plans for Kindergarten through Grade 12 that utilize Letters to the City of Boston and The Copley Square Memorial collections,  and the WBUR Oral History Project as the basis for a teaching unit. These lesson plans are designed to demonstrate mastery of grade and subject appropriate Common Core Standards. Hopefully, these assignments will generate more student submissions to the archive as well as create a platform for an important dialogue amongst students and teachers. I look forward to reading about their experiences in the Our Marathon archives.

Open Access Week: Tuesday, October 23

Today’s Open Access Week event is a webcast of a talk at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard: “How to Make Your Research Open Access (Whether You’re at Harvard or Not).” The speakers are well-known in the world of open access – Peter Suber and Stuart Shieber of the Harvard Open Access Project, the Berkman Center community, and the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication . They’ll be discussing the Harvard Open Access policies and presenting concrete steps for how authors can make their work Open Access wherever they may be. We’ll be streaming the webcast in the DMC AV Circle 1 (the one with the matrix wall), from 12:30-1:30 – feel free to bring your lunch, we’ll be serving cookies and beverages! For the full schedule of Open Access Week events, visit

Open Access Week: Monday, October 22

This week is the sixth International Open Access Week – a global event highlighting the importance of open access to information. We’re offering four events this week that focus on different aspects of Open Access. Today’s event is a webcast cosponsored by SPARC and the World Bank – it’s a 90-minute panel and Q&A moderated by Heather Joseph, the Executive Director of SPARC. The World Bank recently was named a SPARC Innovator for its open access policy and launch of an open data repository. The panelists are:
  • Michael Carroll, Professor of Law, American University and founding Board Member, Creative Commons
  • Matt Cooper, President, The National Association of Graduate-Professional Students
  • Maricel Kann, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland and member, PubMed Central National Advisory Committee, NIH.
  • Carlos Rossel, Publisher, The World Bank
  • Neil Thakur, Special Assistant to the Deputy Director, Extramural Research, National Institutes of Health (NIH)
We’ll be streaming the webcast in the DMC AV Circle #1 (the one with the puzzle-piece wall); refreshments will be served. It’s a 90-minute event, from 4:00-5:30 pm. You’ll also see a table set up in the lobby all week at lunchtime (11:30-1:30), staffed by me and some of our liaison librarians – stop by for lots of information about Open Access and free giveaways! Information about the full week is on our website at

Open-access publishing by NU researchers in 2011: Part 1, journal articles

Researchers at Northestern University published 29 articles in open-access scholarly journals in 2011. By choosing open access journals over those that are restricted to readers with subscriptions, our researchers are helping to increase knowledge on a global level. In fact, more Northeastern authors published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE than in any other journal, open or subscription-based, in 2011. Watch for my next post on open-access books produced by Northeastern authors in 2011! For more information about Open Access and why it’s important, check out our research guide on the topic. Complete list of articles: (NU authors are listed in bold.) Altaboli, Ahamed, and Yingzi Lin. 2011. Investigating effects of screen layout elements on interface and screen design aesthetics. Advances in Human-Computer Interaction 2011, 659758. Published online: 2011. Bagrow, James P., Dashun Wang, and Albert-Laszlo Barabasi. 2011. Collective response of human populations to large-scale emergencies. PLoS ONE 6(3), e17680. Published online: March 30, 2011. Bellon, Marc, Enrique F. Moreno, and Fidel A. Schaposnik. 2011. A note on holography and phase transitions. Advances in High Energy Physics 2011, 917127. Published online: 2011. Benson, Ryan W., Matthew D. Norton, Ida Lin, William S. Du Comb, and Veronica G. Godoy. 2011. An active site aromatic triad in Escherichia coli DNA pol IV coordinates cell survival and mutagenesis in different DNA damaging agents. PLoS ONE 6(5), e19944. Published online: May 17, 2011. Carneiro, Katia, Claudia Donnet, Tomas Rejtar, Barry L. Karger, Gustavo A. Barisone, Elva Diaz, Sandhya Kortagere, Joan M. Lemire, and Michael Levin. 2011. Histone deacetylase activity is necessary for left-right patterning during vertebrate development. BMC Developmental Biology 11, 29. Published online: May 20, 2011. Combosch, David J., and Steven V. Vollmer. 2011. Population genetics of an ecosystem-defining reef coral Pocillopora damicornis in the Tropical Eastern Pacific. PLoS ONE 6(8), e21200. Published online: August 9, 2011. Dauth, Stephanie, Ruxandra F. Sirbulescu, Silvia Jordans, Maren Rehders, Linda Avena, Julia Oswald, Alexander Lerchl, Paul Saftig, and Klaudia Brix. 2011. Cathepsin K deficiency in mice induces structural and metabolic changes in the central nervous system that are associated with learning and memory deficits. BMC Neuroscience 12, 74. Published online: July 27, 2011. DeMaso, Christina R., Ismar Kovacevic, Alper Uzun, and Erin J. Cram. 2011. Structural and functional evaluation of C. elegans filamins FLN-1 and FLN-2. PLoS ONE 6(7), e22428. Published online: July 25, 2011. Diaz-Gonzalez, Rosario, F. Matthew Kuhlmann, Cristina Galan-Rodriguez, Luciana da Silva, Manuel Madeira Saldivia, Caitlin E. Karver, Ana Rodriguez, Stephen M. Beverley, Miguel Navarro, and Michael P. Pollastri. 2011. The susceptibility of trypanosomatid pathogens to PI3/mTOR kinase inhibitors affords a new opportunity for drug repurposing. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 5(8), e1297. Published online: August 2011. Evans, James D., Suresh Peddigari, Kathy R. Chaurasiya, Mark C. Williams, and Sandra L. Martin. 2011. Paired mutations abolish and restore the balanced annealing and melting activities of ORF1p that are required for LINE-1 retrotransposition. Nucleic Acids Research 39(13), 5611-5621. Published online: March 26, 2011. Fiamegos, Yiannis C., Panagiotis L. Kastritis, Vassiliki Exarchou, Haley Han, Alexandre M. J. J. Bonvin, Jacques Vervoort, Kim Lewis, Michael R. Hamblin, and George P. Tegos. 2011. Antimicrobial and efflux pump inhibitory activity of caffeoylquinic acids from Artemisia absinthium against gram-positive pathogenic bacteria. PLoS ONE 6(4), e18127. Published online: April 4, 2011. Hasson, Christopher J., Ross H. Miller, and Graham E. Caldwell. 2011. Contractile and elastic ankle joint muscular properties in young and older adults. PLoS ONE 6(1), e15953. Published online: January 11, 2011. Hryshko, Dmytro, María José Luengo-Prado, Bent E. Sørensen. 2011. Childhood determinants of risk aversion: The long shadow of compulsory education. Quantitative Economics 2(1), 37-72. Published online: March 8, 2011. Iacob, Roxana E., Jianming Zhang, Nathanael S. Gray, and John R. Engen. 2011. Allosteric interactions between the myristate- and ATP-site of the Abl kinase. PLoS ONE 6(1), e15929. Published online: January 10, 2011. Kemper, Kathi, Sally Bulla, Deborah Krueger, Mary Jane Ott, Jane A. McCool, and Paula Gardiner. 2011. Nurses’ experiences, expectations, and preferences for mind-body practices to reduce stress. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 11, 26. Published online: April 11, 2011. Kranzer, Katharina, Nienke van Schaik, Unice Karmue, Keren Middelkoop, Elaine Sebastian, Stephen D. Lawn, Robin Wood, and Linda-Gail Bekker. 2011. High prevalence of self-reported undiagnosed HIV despite high coverage of HIV testing: a cross-sectional population based sero-survey in South Africa. PLoS ONE 6(9), e25244. Published online: September 28, 2011. Krieger, Nancy, Pamela D. Waterman, Anna Kosheleva, Jarvis T. Chen, Dana R. Carney, Kevin W. Smith, Gary G. Bennett, David R. Williams, Elmer Freeman, Beverley Russell, Gisele Thornhill, Kristin Mikolowsky, Rachel Rifkin, and Latrice Samuel. 2011. Exposing racial discrimination: implicit & explicit measures – the My Body, My Story study of 1005 US-born black & white community health center members. PLoS ONE 6(11), e27636. Published online: November 18, 2011. Lin, H., Tanmoy Das, L. A. Wray, S.-Y. Xu, M. Z. Hasan, and A. Bansil. 2011. An isolated Dirac cone on the surface of ternary tetradymite-like topological insulators. New Journal of Physics 13, 095005. Published online: September 9, 2011. Milane, Lara , Zhenfeng Duan, and Mansoor Amiji. 2011. Therapeutic efficacy and safety of paclitaxel/lonidamine loaded EGFR-targeted nanoparticles for the treatment of multi-drug resistant cancer. PLoS ONE 6(9), e24075. Published online: September 8, 2011. Onnela, Jukka-Pekka, Samuel Arbesman, Marta C. Gonzalez, Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, and Nicholas A. Christakis. 2011. Geographic constraints on social network groups. PLoS ONE 6(4), e16939. Published online: April 5, 2011. Pantazopoulos, Harry , Hamid Dolatshad, and Fred C. Davis. 2011. A fear-inducing odor alters PER2 and c-Fos expression in brain regions involved in fear memory. PLoS ONE 6(5), e20658. Published online: May 31, 2011. Pei, De-Sheng, Xiao-Jie Yang, Wei Liu, Jeroen E. J. Guikema, Carol E. Schrader, and Phyllis R. Strauss. 2011. A novel regulatory circuit in base excision repair involving AP endonuclease 1, Creb1 and DNA polymerase β. Nucleic Acids Research 39(8), 3156-3165. Published online: December 20, 2010. Robinson, Elizabeth M. , Delbert L. Smee, and Geoffrey C. Trussell. 2011. Green crab (Carcinus maenas) foraging efficiency reduced by fast flows. PLoS ONE 6(6), e21025. Published online: June 7, 2011. Shulman, Maria , Merav Cohen, Alejandro Soto-Gutierrez, Hiroshi Yagi, Hongyun Wang, Jonathan Goldwasser, Carolyn W. Lee-Parsons, Ofra Benny-Ratsaby, Martin L. Yarmush, and Yaakov Nahmias. 2011. Enhancement of naringenin bioavailability by complexation with hydroxypropoyl-beta-cyclodextrin. PLoS ONE 6(4), e18033. Published online: April 6, 2011. Sohn, Yunkyu, Myung-Kyu Choi, Yong-Yeol Ahn, Junho Lee, and Jaeseung Jeong. 2011. Topological cluster analysis reveals the systemic organization of the Caenorhabditis elegans connectome. PLoS Computational Biology 7(5), e1001139. Published online: May 2011. Sternad, Dagmar, Masaki O. Abe, Xiaogang Hu, and Hermann Mueller. 2011. Neuromotor noise, error tolerance and velocity-dependent costs in skilled performance. PLoS Computational Biology 7(9), e1002159. Published online: September 2011. Wang, Y. J., H. Lin, Tanmoy Das, M. Z. Hasan, and A. Bansil. 2011. Topological insulators in the quaternary chalcogenide compounds and ternary famatinite compounds. New Journal of Physics 13, 085017. Published online: August 31, 2011. Whelan, Donna R., Keith R. Bambery, Philip Heraud, Mark J. Tobin, Max Diem, Don McNaughton, and Bayden R. Wood. 2011. Monitoring the reversible B to A-like transition of DNA in eukaryotic cells using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Nucleic Acids Research 39(13), 5439-5448. Published online: March 29, 2011. Zerebecki, Robyn A. , and Cascade J. B. Sorte. 2011. Temperature tolerance and stress proteins as mechanisms of invasive species success. PLoS ONE 6(4), e14806. Published online: April 26, 2011.