Roxbury man crafts mural dedicated to his family’s journey

BOSTON — Her hand outstretched, a key floating in her palm with the Roxbury cityscape in the foreground, artist Cedric Douglas used his mother and family story as the focal point of a mural near the new Bartlett-station housing development in Roxbury.

“If I never paint a mural again, I’m done. I’m happy. This is a very meaningful mural to me, very meaningful,” Douglas said.

Commissioned by Boston Medical Center, Cedric’s mural tells the generational story of his family’s move from Jamaica to Roxbury and the legacy his grandmother’s work at BMC left behind. She was a housekeeper at the hospital for 30 years.

“She would go room to room to empty the barrels, but the doctors would talk to her like she was an equal. That job, coming from Jamaica with no money, working there for 30 years, made it possible so she could buy her first house,” Douglas said.

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BMC told Boston 25 News that the mural is part of an ongoing effort to provide financial support for the housing development and a future supermarket at Bartlett Station. Dr. Thea James said housing and food security is directly connected to health care.

“When people come into our hospital, a lot of things may be going on or wrong with them – disease perpetually out of control and these type [of] things,” Dr. James said. “Those are things that are downstream. They’ve already occurred cause of things that are upstream.”

Cedric’s murals can be seen all over the city, and he said each have recurring themes of transformation, migration and the shared experiences of people in the community. His Roxbury mural will be part of the revitalization of Nubian Square and the surrounding neighborhood.

“I want people to see that I can relate to this story. Coming from Puerto Rico, coming from Haiti and also coming from Jamaica. Whatever area they come from. So I really want people to see that connection within the mural,” he said.