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Letters to the editor

Readers respond to Scott Helman’s story on West Medford, a historically black neighborhood in transition.


I am a fourth-generation native of West Medford and really appreciate the detail Scott Helman included in “The Ville” (February 10). My mother, Sylvia Evans, will turn 90 on March 4, and we will celebrate at the West Medford Community Center. She represents that generation of elders to which Helman refers in the article: They survived despite the odds and have been the backbone of our community.

Cheryl L. Evans / Roselle, New Jersey

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West Medford was a great place to grow up. As I like to tell my friends, I could walk from my home to Dugger Park, and I knew the people in every house I passed and they knew me. But one of the sad truths for my generation is we came of age during a very difficult time for racial relations in Greater Boston. Most of my peers who went on to college eventually left Massachusetts and never considered settling in the state. I think part of a generation was lost to West Medford.

Kevin Henderson/ Oakland, California


Another impressive aspect of West Medford was its acceptance of all people. My grandparents, Russian Jews, raised seven children there. My relatives recall happy times with African-American playmates. My oldest uncle, Arnold Starr, played hot jazz with neighbors. In an interview for the West Medford Afro-American Remembrance Project, Cortland Dugger stated that it “has never, never bothered us as to what a person’s color was. Our concern was: Are they decent people?” Decades before Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, West Medford was a place where people were not “judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Marsha Starr Paiste / Salem, New Hampshire

COMMENTS? Write to or The Boston Globe Magazine/Letters, PO Box 55819, Boston, MA 02205-5819. Letters are subject to editing.

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