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Fighting violence, face to face

Mattapan residents are featured in a series of billboards for a Boston Public Health Commission violence prevention campaign.

Lane Turner/Globe Staff/file

Mattapan residents are featured in a series of billboards for a Boston Public Health Commission violence prevention campaign.

In his front-page article about antiviolence billboards (“A campaign to counter violence’s allure,” Oct. 2) Geoff Edgers writes, “Health commission officials say this kind of campaign, putting the spotlight on real people, has not been done before.” We would have appreciated his acknowledgment that this has been done before — just a year ago, in fact.

In 2012 our group, Mothers for Justice and Equality, conducted a six-month billboard campaign to raise awareness about the impact of neighborhood violence. Fifty-six billboards were displayed around the city featuring children who had been victims of violence and carrying messages about the value of children. The project was made possible by pro bono photography, and with funding from the Boston Public Health Commission and from the very generous donation of billboard space and design from Clear Channel.

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Mothers for Justice and Equality is a grass-roots organization, and the 2012 billboard campaign featured real people who had been killed in our neighborhoods and real mothers who continue to suffer from the loss of their children. As with the current campaign, “Our Mattapan. Many Pasts. One Future,” there were no actors.

We would happily have expanded and extended our antiviolence campaign if we had access to greater resources. Grass-roots organizations — those most connected to, affected by, and invested in the people they serve — rarely have access to the level of funding that allows for continued impact.

We applaud the efforts underway in Mattapan. We pray that they make a difference.

Monalisa Smith


Mothers for Justice

and Equality


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