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Rita Hester’s murder and legacy are important to Boston, so she’s getting a mural in Allston

Hester was stabbed to death in her home in 1998.

Rita Hester, an Allston trans woman whose murder sparked the creation of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, is getting a mural in Allston. Mayor Michelle Wu's Office

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s Office has commissioned a mural of a trans woman who lived in Allston and whose murder sparked the creation of the Transgender Day of Remembrance to help the importance of her story live on.

The mural, titled “Rita’s Spotlight,” will depict Rita Hester, who was killed at age 34 in 1998, and will be painted near Union Square in Allston.

“Rita Hester was a Black trans woman and beloved Allston community member who lost her life as a result of transphobia and anti-trans violence,” the Mayor’s Office said in a news release about the mural.

“Rita Hester was known for her congeniality, boldness, and love of entertaining. Her passing was felt by countless individuals and sparked a movement in Boston and beyond.”


According to NBC News, Hester was born in Hartford, Connecticut, but found a more welcoming community of friends in Boston. The news channel wrote that she was a big presence in the city’s rock scene in the 1990s, frequenting The Silhouette Lounge in Allston, as well as both straight and gay clubs.

Hester was found alive but suffering from 20 stab wounds in her home on Park Vale Street in Allston on Nov. 28, 1998, NBC News reported. The news network wrote that it took over an hour after police were called for her to be taken to Beth Israel Deaconess hospital where she succumbed to her wounds.

Her murder remains unsolved.

After Hester was murdered, NBC News reported, Boston newspapers such as The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, and even LGBTQ+ newspaper Bay Windows misgendered Hester in their reporting, which sparked a protest march by activists from the office of the Herald to the Bay Windows office.

In 1998, devastated by Hester’s murder and many other recent killings of trans women, trans activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith created a web project called Remembering Our Dead to honor them, NBC News reported.

The next year, she created Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is Nov. 20, and held marches and vigils in Boston and San Francisco.


The Mayor’s Office said in the release that the mural, which will be painted at 506 Cambridge St. in Allston near the Jackson Mann School, was proposed by former Boston Artist-in-Residence Golden.

The Mayor’s Office said the City has commissioned street artist Rixy, a Roxbury native, to create the mural as part of the City’s Transformative Public Art Program.

The mural is expected to be completed by early July, the Mayor’s Office said. Rixy will be participating in an artist talk to share more about the design and community engagement process for the mural on Wednesday, June 29.

“It’s part of the process to think of others’ reflections: how Rita will so vibrantly be seen like this, and how others, especially her loved ones, always see her,” Rixy said in the release. “I feel like a handy tool in making a visual of these perspectives.”

Also in honor of Hester, the Mayor’s Office said the City contributed to the Transgender Emergency Fund of Massachusetts’s Rita Hester Scholarship Fund, which opens for applications on June 24.

The fund will award $2,500 to four low-income, Black transgender women pursuing a post-secondary degree, certificate, or accreditation, and $1,000 will go to three low-income, transgender women of any race pursuing a post-secondary degree, certificate, or accreditation.


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