New Public Art Installation Recognizes Legacy of Slavery in Roxbury

New Public Art Installation Recognizes Legacy of Slavery in Roxbury


July 9, 2024 

Museum Contact: Rachel Hoyle, The Shirley-Eustis House 

Phone: 617-442-2275 


New Public Art Installation Recognizes Legacy of Slavery in Roxbury 


Roxbury, Mass.— At the Shirley-Eustis House in Roxbury, MA, a new art installation placed on the publicly-accessible grounds recognizes five Africans enslaved by the family of Royal Governor William Shirley in the eighteenth century. Officially opened in a small ceremony several weeks ago, the installation, completed by Roxbury artist SidMarie Arroyo, includes five locally-sourced stones each engraved with the name of an enslaved person and painted with the image of a bird seen on the grounds of Shirley Place. Accompanying signs expand upon the person’s name with information about their life and work, and include QR codes that visitors can scan to learn more about the history of enslavement at the Shirley-Eustis House and in Boston. Nearly every aspect of the stones is intentional, from the choice of stone material, to the matching of bird species, to the placement of the stone on the property. 

The timing of this press release coincides with the third annual proclamation of Quock Walker Day in Massachusetts on July 8, 2024. The day recognizes the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s 1783 decision to uphold the self-emancipation of a formerly enslaved man named Quock Walker, which also legally ended slavery in Massachusetts. Walker was also awarded damages in a civil case brought against his former enslaver for assault and battery. While slavery continued in the Commonwealth in other forms after this date, the case was a landmark decision in the United States and was the first of many cases brought by self-emancipated former slaves against their former enslavers. 

About the work’s artist: SidMarie is an AfroLatina artist from Massachusetts. Born and raised in Boston, she began to develop an interest in painting after taking some elective art courses at Umass Boston, while attaining her bachelors degree in Africana studies, the study of the African Diaspora, back in 2010. Since then, she has enjoyed using paint to honor and celebrate notable figures of the diaspora of contemporary African American and AfroLatino culture. She’s installed a number of murals at youth centers across the city, often collaborating with local community members to complete the installations. 

Her approach to the memorial stones at Shirley Place centered on birds, a universal symbol of freedom and transcendence. She considered the use of birds that would’ve been present during the time of the formerly enslaved people on the property set to the backdrop of vibrant, blended color. 


About the Shirley-Eustis House: The Shirley-Eustis House is a National Historic Landmark located at 33 Shirley St. in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The 1747 house, preserved at Shirley Place, is one of only four colonial governors’ mansions remaining in the United States. It was also owned by a Massachusetts governor of the early Federal era, whose lasting aesthetic marks on the house reflect its nineteenth century story. The Shirley-Eustis House Association preserves the site to explore the early history of our nation and the community of Roxbury. More information about guided tours, events and programs can be found on our website: