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First Black Woman to Be Elected Mayor in Major New England City Memorialized with Mural Project

A former mayor of Hartford, Connecticut is finally getting the flowers she deserves after the town has agreed to create a mural in her honor.

Mayor Carrie Saxon Perry, the first Black woman to be elected mayor of a major New England city, served in the role from 1987 to 1993. She was widely known for her wide-brimmed hats and for pulling herself by the bootstraps to become mayor after humble beginnings as a resident of Bellevue Square housing projects where she was raised.

Aside from becoming mayor, Saxon Perry was a social worker, state representative and civil rights advocate who was credited for decreasing gang violence and drug trafficking. She also sought out new measures in health care reform and fought for equal rights among the LGBTQ+ community.

Saxon Perry died in 2018 at the age 87. Since then, community leaders have agreed to fund a mural project in her honor, which will be funded by The Love Your Block program, an initiative bringing together city leaders and citizens to revamp neighborhoods throughout Hartford.

According to Hartford Courant, The SAND School is one of the first to receive funding to spearhead the project. Desiree Primus, a fourth-grade teacher at SAND, applied for the funding and organized for the Saxon Perry mural project to come to fruition.

Speaking to the publication, Primus said it was significant for the mural to be created so that members of the community could learn more about Perry’s legacy.

“I thought it was important for my students to know that and for people in Hartford and beyond to know…I wanted people to know more about Carrie,” she said. “It’s just that the students need role models. The SAND School and the community, it’s impoverished. We want to uplift and give them local people to aspire to.”

Professional artist Ellis Echevarria is one of the key players in creating the Saxon Perry mural and said that he is touched deeply to be a part of its creation.

“I grew up in that neighborhood, so to come back and be part of … a beautification, revitalization educational effort by the community in the school, in the city of Hartford’s Love your Block program was special,” he said. “Between the ages of 13 to 17, I lived in that project. Looking back at the mural, I (was) saying to myself, you know, I’ve come a long way and I’m proud to be part of this and glad I can honor her and display to the city or what I thought of her.”

Learn more about the Carrie Saxon Perry Project, which includes a digital archive and History Pin website. To learn more about Saxon Perry, visit here.

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