Thanks to a donation from founding member (and UMass Boston Professor Emeritus) Reebee Garofalo, The Massachusetts Rock Against Racism Archives are part of the Digital Collections at UMass Boston's Joseph P. Healy Library.
NOTE: this page is intended as a primer for all of the great resources there. It is not meant to replace anything in the UMass Boston / Healy Library digital world.
Thanks to Andrew Elder, Carolyn Goldstein, Joanne Riley, Pacey Foster and all the other great UMass Boston people for archiving, digitizing and working to get this incredible collection out to the rest of the world. And to Reebee Garofalo, Mackie MacLeod (RIP), Fran Smith, Larry Aronson, Jose Masso, Katie Abel and all of the amazing people who made Mass RAR a force for positive energy and change in Boston in the 1980s.
Mass Rock Against Racism was a tidal wave of progressive thought and action whose ripples are still felt today, via the high school participants back then who are now elders, teaching their own lessons to the next generation.
CLICK HERE to visit the UMass Boston digital portal any time.
And check out (and follow / like) the Mass RAR Facebook page, to be notified about future events that celebrate the organizations past and future.
Massachusetts Rock Against Racism: A Very Brief History
Founded in 1979 (just three years after the birth of the original UK movement of the same name), Massachusetts Rock Against Racism began when a diverse group of local educators and radio DJs responded to a request from Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School students for a program about how popular music could unite people across racial divides.
During its lifetime, the organization provided the only local platform where genres as diverse as Latin, rock, rap, reggae and R&B could be seen on stage together and the term “rock” in its name clearly functioned as a verb rather than a description of a musical genre.
After several years running a "Rock and Rap" program in the public schools and producing a cable program called “Can’t Music Bring Us Together” with a volunteer staff, in 1983 the organization received funding from the Boston Public Schools, space in the downtown (Park Square) offices of UMass Boston and became a full-fledged afterschool program for Boston youth.
An ongoing partnership with a local cable television station allowed Mass Rock Against Racism to develop its own television programs and professionally record many of its concerts and public performances while simultaneously training youth members in video production and media literacy. Although the programs and shows always highlighted diverse collections of young local artists, some included nationally recognized entertainers like George Benson, Run-DMC, Donna Summer and Jeffrey Osbourne which gave the organization a national reach.
Perhaps most importantly, because their school programs, television shows and concerts included members of the first generation of Boston’s hip-hop community, the video archive contains perhaps the most complete and well recorded video documentation of a regional hip-hop scene just before the genre exploded in popularity worldwide in the middle- and late- 1980s.
The organization celebrated its 40th Anniversary on November 23, 2019 at the Boston Public Library' Copley branch, with workshops, panel discussions and a "family reunion" with people who hadn't been in the same room together for decades.