Re-dedication of Beat the Belt Mural Celebrates Citizen Activism

siobhanbredin's picture

My hope is that this mural will inspire people to get angry, get organized, and get in the way. -Bernard LaCasse, 2017

On Thursday night, September 28, the Cambridge Arts Council celebrated the re-dedication of Bernard LaCasse's 1980 mural, Beat the Belt, at 730 Memorial Drive.

The artwork tells the story of the "Inner Belt,” a mid-20th century proposal by the U.S. Federal Government for an eight-lane highway that would have looped around downtown Boston and gone right through the neighborhood of Cambridgeport, destroying hundreds of buildings and displacing thousands of people. Residents battled the highway until winning the fight in 1970.

Mayor E. Denise Simmons joined Cambridge Arts Council Executive Director Jason Weeks to read her proclamation celebrating the rich history of citizen activism in Cambridge and this specific success in 1970. 

This summer the Cambridge Arts Council (especially Director of Art Conservation Rika Smith McNally) worked with artist Bernard LaCasse to restore his 1980 mural, which tells how activists defeated a proposal for a highway that would have looped around downtown Boston and gone right through the neighborhood of Cambridgeport, destroying hundreds of buildings and displacing thousands of people. 

Citizen activists who were part of the original effort were joined by neighborhood residents and the original artist, the Cambridge Arts Council conservation crew, and Cambridge Historical Commission Executive Director Charlie Sullivan for a celebration enlivened by music from  School of HONK band.

The mural is located at 730 Memorial Drive, Cambridge 02139 (in Trader Joe's parking lot.) More about the mural and additional photos. Background story on the restoration by Mary Holbrow, sister NeighborMedia Correspondent.

 

Comments

bevmire's picture

Thanks, Siobhan.  Great coverage as always.