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Celebrating diversity

Created date

May 31st, 2009

African-Americans and Friends group enriches culture at Linden Ponds

By Setarreh Massihzadegan A quick look at the list of more than 100 special interest groups at Linden Ponds reveals the community s diverse array of people and talents. One of the newest groups, African-Americans and Friends, embraces just that. Leroy Jenkins was inspired to start the new group, which hosts cultural events, after Linden Ponds put on its own Olympics last summer. The opening ceremony featured a display of about 100 flags from various countries. "When I saw all those flags lined up, I thought, We [the people of Linden Ponds] are international, " Jenkins recalls. It wasn t long before African-Americans and Friends organized a New England gospel ensemble performance and a panel discussion about the Boston desegregation busing of the 1970s. "I knew I could get help because there are some great people who live here," Jenkins says of getting the group up and running. "That s what we re all about, just bringing people together." Inclusive spirit In March, the group organized an exhibit of icon paintings of the Civil Rights Movement, which was on display outside Linden Ponds performing arts center. The exhibit, called "Icons of the Civil Rights Movement," featured work by Pamela Chatterton-Purdy, including paintings of historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Jack and Betsy Bishop, who helped arrange the exhibit, had just moved to Linden Ponds when they saw African-Americans and Friends advertised. The Bishops were both activists during the Civil Rights Movement. "One of the pieces that attracted us here [to Linden Ponds] was an inclusive spirit, a quality of openness that was present," says Mr. Bishop. To that end, on April 23, African-Americans and Friends sponsored an international fashion show featuring native costumes from around the world, modeled by people who live and work at Linden Ponds. Donations from the event went to the Benevolent Care Fund, which assists residents in financial need.