Photos: ‘Say Their Names’ memorial in Boston Common honors Black people killed by racial injustice

The installation includes over 300 portraits.

A photograph of Breonna Taylor is part of the "Say Their Names" memorial on Boston Common. Taylor, a Black medical worker in Kentucky, was fatally shot in March by white police officers whom a grand jury declined to charge with homicide. –Jessica Rinaldi / Boston Globe

A new memorial honoring over 300 Black lives lost to racial injustice was installed in Boston Common Sunday.

The “Say Their Names” memorial, posted on the fence of the Common’s baseball field, includes the portraits and names of Black people who were lynched, assassinated, or killed by police, from Emmett Till to George Floyd.

See photos from the installation below:

A woman is silhouetted as she takes in the faces in the photographs that make up the “Say Their Names” memorial on Boston Common. —Jessica Rinaldi / Boston Globe
The “Say Their Names Memorial” at the Boston Common is a nationwide initiative to honor Black lives taken by systemic racism and racial injustice. —Stan Grossfeld / Boston Globe
People pause to look at the “Say Their Names” memorial on Boston Common. —Jessica Rinaldi / Boston Globe
A woman places a flower beside a photograph of Malcolm X, the civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1965. —Jessica Rinaldi / Boston Globe
A photograph of Brianna Hill, a Black transgender woman who was shot to death in Kansas City, Missouri in 2019. —Jessica Rinaldi / Boston Globe

Volunteer Mansa Semenya, one of dozens to help install the memorial, said it resonated with her own fears about her son.

“My son is really young, he’s an African-American,” Semenya told WHDH. “He’s going to grow up in this country as an African-American boy, and no matter what my personal history is, or no matter how I grew up, this could still be him in the future.


“I’m just sad, sad and tired and exhausted that this is still happening,” Semenya said.

The Boston installation is the latest in a series of volunteer efforts to memorialize Black lives. “Say Their Names” memorials have been placed in over 25 locations nationwide since the first installation in Portland, Oregon. The Boston memorial will be on display in the Common until at least Sunday, Nov. 22., but organizers say they’re seeking extensions for their permit.

The full database of those memorialized includes modern victims of police brutality like Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, and Breonna Taylor, along with assassinated figures from the civil rights movement like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Fred Hampton.

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