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Elder

Queens

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De Ama Battle

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Born in Cambridge, De Ama Battle is an arts educator and the founder/artistic director of the Art of Black Dance and Music, Inc. (ABDM), formed in l975. As a teaching company at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, ABDM conducted the Kwanzaa Celebrations every year for about 40 years.

Classically trained in American and cultural dance forms, Battle accepted faculty positions at Wellesley College, Boston Conservatory of Music and Dance, Roxbury Community College, the Cambridge Schools, and at national and international teaching facilities. Battle’s arts education programs brought cultural experiences to the Cambridge school system, teaching the connections of the African diaspora that spread via the Atlantic slave trade, to Europe, the United States, the Caribbean, and South America. Battle has studied with master dancers from West Africa, Brazil, Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba. One of her teachers and mentors was Baba Chuck Davis, a leading African American teacher of traditional African dance. Her research has probed deeper, into the fields abroad through dance-study tours to Guinea, Mali, Jamaica, Ghana, Senegal and Cuba. Battle regards modern dance pioneers Pearl Primus and Katherine Dunham, who studied the cultural traditions of West Africa and the Caribbean as role models. As a dance historian and arts educator, she developed one of the company’s goals, to unify people of African descent “through the study of African-rooted dance, music, and folklore” to highlight “cultural similarities within the African Diaspora.”

Battle’s work in Cambridge spans four decades and all ages and includes teaching at the Dance Complex (Joy of Movement). She was also involved in the development of the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center as a performing space for local artists. Battle’s research materials have been placed at the Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies / Schlesinger Library.

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Gloria Fox

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Fox was born on March 18, 1942. Raised as a foster child, Fox attended Boston and Everett public schools. She has also completed the MIT Community Fellows program.

As a single mother, she raised two sons in the Whittier Street Housing Development in Roxbury She worked as a community organizer before entering politics. She was active in the fight to stop the Southwest Expressway.

Fox first ran for the 7th Suffolk seat in 1984, losing a write-in campaign against six-term incumbent and Democratic nominee Doris Bunte. Fox ran for the seat again in 1986, when Bunte announced her retirement from the legislature. Fox won the three-way Democratic primary and also the general election, where she was unopposed. Fox faces two challengers in the 2012 primaries, her first contested primary race since 1994.

Fox served on the Joint Committee on Housing as vice-chair, the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, the House Committee on Steering, Policy and Scheduling, and the House Committee on Ways and Means. Her legislative work on criminal justice reform, child welfare and foster care redistricting, Election Day voter registration, and eliminating health disparities in communities of color. When Fox retired from her seat in 2016, she was the longest-serving woman in the Great and General Court.

Fox was a member of the Boston Delegation of the Massachusetts Legislature, the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators, the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. Her papers are now held at the State Library of Massachusetts.

In 2011, Fox received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators for her community activism.