Roxbury Action Program

Article contributed by Marjorie Hicks, Roxbury Action Program staff

Roxbury Action Program (RAP) began in 1968 and continues to the present day. RAP was started by a small group of local residents to undertake the task of preventing further decay in the Highland Park section of Roxbury. Its goal was to rebuild and revitalize for the benefit of its residents a once attractive area that had become neglected and deteriorated. Roxbury Action Program had to look at where this neighborhood existed in relationship to the adjacent areas of the City of Boston as a whole. A neighborhood does not exist in a vacuum. Highland Park could not become an ideal place to live in an ocean of decay and neglect. RAP has always been about assisting people to have a stake in the community and some control and ownership where they live.

In its initial years RAP chose not to receive direct federal funding. During that period RAP operated as a self-directed agency. This flexibility was crucial to RAP’s development and planning that truly reflected the needs of the community.

RAP believed that the process of mentally looking at the inner world of the individual and the outer world of the environment could be manipulated positively by specific methods. The methods that RAP used have encompassed productive activities that created rippling effects so that people living in the community became involved. Participation in the future through jobs, stable housing, strengthening family structures and positive involvement in the political systems have helped the population create a measure of control over their lives. RAP realized that the social, economic and educational facets of a community where as important to the health of the community as housing. To that end RAP has over the years developed many social service programs.

The following are some Roxbury Action Program initiatives:

Current RAP Activities

-Harlem Book Fair – ROXBURY:

An annual outdoor celebration of literacy promoting local authors publishers, entertainment, literacy and health promotional activities.

-Harlem Book Fair – Roxbury Literacy Luncheon & Awards Celebration

held previous to the Book Fair spotlighting several local authors and poets with awards for local residents who have furthered the promotion of literacy in the Roxbury/Boston area.

- “June is Literacy Month in Boston” campaign

-Poetry Open Mike and local authors presentations.

-Intergenerational Literary events for local writers and performers

-Annual Trip to Harlem, N.Y. Book Fair

-Development of Home Ownership opportunities for low and moderate-income
RAP tenants and other Highland Park residents.

-Sunday Jazz and Intergenerational Poetry concerts involving local professional jazz musicians and young musicians from local middle and high schools.

-Establishment of the Patricia Raynor Scholarship Fund at Roxbury Community College

-Roxbury Day: In 1988 Roxbury Action Program began the Annual observance of a celebration of Roxbury Pride – Live It! which has developed into the Roxbury Cultural and Historical Festival of Roxbury Day.

-Completing a “Save the Children Monument” – in memory of children killed in Highland Park and dedicated to the youth of the area. Its installation will be an impetus for the work on violence prevention being currently planned by RAP.

- Collaborating with Dudley Main Streets to enhance the economic and cultural richness of the Dudley Square area.

Some of Roxbury Action Program’s Past Activities

Roxbury Action Program has developed and/or owned

88 units of low and moderate-income housing

26 units of public housing – the first 705 Development in the State of Ma.

A collaboration of Private, City and State agencies.

155 units of elderly housing – Marcus Garvey Gardens

  • Roxbury Action Pharmacy
  • Marcus Garvey Youth Center
  • After-School and Summer Programs for Youth
  • “Let it Grow” Teen Landscaping Project
  • Free Food Pantry and Food Voucher Program
  • Highland Park 400 - a Senior Gardening and Self-Advocacy Project
  • Upgrading of Seniors Gardens and a Neighborhood Park in collaboration with the MIT School of Architecture, Roxbury Community College’s Landscape Maintenance Program, Public Housing Residents and the Highland Park 400.
  • Drug Abuse Prevention Programs implemented in local elementary and middle schools.