African-American exhibit settles into permanent venue in Boston

Issue December 2009 By Tricia M. Oliver

"The Long Road to Justice: The African-American Experience in the Massachusetts Courts," was re-dedicated and celebrated at its new home, the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston, on Oct. 29.

Sponsored by the Justice George Lewis Ruffin Society, the traveling exhibit will now be featured permanently in the main lobby of the courthouse. The educational display - inspired by the vision of retired Superior Court Justice Julian T. Houston - portrays the African-Americans' struggle through three centuries to achieve full participation and justice in the Massachusetts court system.

The Massachusetts Bar Association, in cooperation with the Administrative Office of the Trial Court, sponsored the Oct. 29 reception. Ruffin Society President Anthony Owens presented the MBA, the AOTC and Northeastern University's College of Criminal Justice with commemorative plaques for their generous support of the exhibit's transformation into a permanent one.

MBA President Valerie A. Yarashus quoted Palestinian-American literary scholar and activist Edward Said during her remarks: "Even if one is not [excluded from the justice system and therefore from civil society in such a blatant way], it is still possible to think as one [who has been], to imagine and investigate in spite of barriers, and always to move away from the centralizing authorities towards the margins, where you see things that are usually lost on minds that have never traveled beyond the conventional and comfortable."

"It is exhibits like this that help those of us living now, in these times, to imagine and investigate these life-changing challenges," added Yarashus, who explained that the exhibit gets to the "very core" of what justice is about.