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Society: Local Artist Remembers 11 Black Women Murdered In Boston 40 Years Ago

Forty years ago, the body of 29-year-old Daryal Ann Hargett was found by her landlord in her South End apartment.

The social worker, who was described as quiet and serious by those who knew her, had been stabbed to death. She was the fifth black woman to be murdered in Boston that year, and she wouldn’t be the last.

By the end of May 1979, the number of women murdered in Boston would rise to 12. All but one were black.

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The bodies of the 11 black women — all between the ages of 15 and 34 — were found in Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, the South End, and Back Bay.

Kendra Hicks, a local artist and community organizer, will remember Hargett’s death on Thursday with a 24-hour art installation near where the 29-year-old’s body was found. Since January, Hicks has been putting up temporary artwork for each of the women who died in the rash of violence 40 years ago.


“One of the things I wanted to pose really was, ‘Who gets memorialized in the city and who’s allowed to be memorialized? Who has monuments erected in their name?’” Hicks told Boston.com.

A Boston native who grew up in Egleston Square, Hicks said she started doing community organizing work in her teens. Through her activism, she began studying black feminists and black feminism, which led her to discover the Combahee River Collective.

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“The Combahee River Collective is a black, queer socialist collective that was here in Roxbury from 1974 to 1979, and they were one of the groups of women who basically responded to these murders when they were happening,” Hicks said. “They were creating literature for the women in the neighborhood when these murders were happening.”

It was about a year and a half ago that Hicks said she learned of the string of murders that rocked the black community at the time and decided to create artwork that would commemorate the 40th anniversary of the women’s deaths. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign and a crew of volunteers, she has been designing the installations for the 10-part memorial she calls “The Estuary Projects.”

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