BOSTON — From sometimes controversial activist to organizer and non-profit CEO, Monica Cannon-Grant’s work has always been centered on her passion for keeping her community safe.
After more than a year of planning, donations and volunteer labor, the Violence in Boston Social Impact Center opened to the public this Labor Day. Boston 25 spoke with Cannon-Grant last March when the space was still raw.
Now, it’s home to a food bank, recording studio and job resource and after school center. Artists from across Boston donated their time to create elaborate murals.
“It’s shocking being a kid who grew up in poverty to now being able to give back to my community on a granular level feels amazing,” said Cannon-Grant.
Cannon-Grant says the aim of the center is not to replace any of the non-profits in the City of Boston but rather to amplify their work.
“The work that Monica’s doing is not only work, it’s personal,” said former Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson. “It’s her family and it’s her community which she’s put on her shoulders.”
Violence in Boston Inc. started as a Facebook page posting incidents of violent crime in Cannon-Grant’s neighborhood and grew to large scale protests for safer streets and the movement for Black lives. Recently they provided tens of thousands of meals to families in Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan and worked with the families of victims of police violence to pass legislation banning chokeholds and other potentially deadly practices.
“It was very hard to get it out,” says Emerald Garner, Eric Garner’s daughter. “But we go the word out and people know this is what we’re doing.”
While speeches were delivered from elected leaders and activists, including Garner, a small group of protesters stationed themselves outside the center, a reminder of the conflict Cannon-Grant says she often faces in her work.
“I’m an activist and a Black activist and that means not everybody’s happy when you’re screaming Black Lives Matter, not everybody is happy with you telling the truth,” said Cannon-Grant. “But that’s how I got here.”
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