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Celebrating 50 Years Of The Caribbean American Carnival In Boston


The Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) is pleased to announce the “Caribbean Americans & Politics: Celebrating 50 Years of the Caribbean American Carnival in Boston” event on Thursday, August 24, 2023, from 06:00 p.m. to 07:30 p.m. The public program will be held in a hybrid format, allowing attendees to participate either in person or virtually via Zoom. To attend, please register here.

The event will feature a panel discussion with distinguished guests, including Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll, City Councilor Brian Worrell, Former Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, Former Representative Byron Rushing, and will be moderated by Dr. Robert Bellinger. This esteemed panel will delve into the history of the Caribbean American Carnival Association of Boston (CACAB) and its significant impact on the city’s cultural landscape and local economy.

This program offers an opportunity to learn about Boston history from history makers in Boston and celebrate the rich history and contributions of the Caribbean American community in Boston. “The Caribbean American Carnival is exciting and colorful and something everyone should see. We are thrilled to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the event,” commented MHS Director of Programs, Exhibitions & Community Partnerships Gavin Kleespies. He continued, “We have an amazing panel and we look forward to hearing their insights.”

CACAB, founded in 1973 by Ken Bonaparte Mitchell, has grown to become the largest BIPOC celebration in Boston. The annual carnival has not only fostered inclusivity and cross-cultural understanding but has also provided a vital economic boost to many of Boston’s local minority-owned small businesses. The event features vibrant costumes, masqueraders, music, a steelpan orchestra, entertainers, vendors, and much more.

As part of the carnival’s 50th anniversary, the panel will discuss this year’s celebration, the influence of Caribbean politics in Massachusetts, and the evolution of CACAB from its inception by Mitchell to its current activities under the leadership of Shirley Shillingford.

The in-person reception for the event will begin at 05:30 p.m., followed by the program at 06:00 p.m. For those unable to attend in person, the virtual program will be hosted on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive a confirmation message with attendance information. Admission is free, but registration is required. Interested participants can register to attend online or in person by visiting here.

For more information about the event, please visit the Massachusetts Historical Society’s website here or contact MHS Director of Programs, Exhibitions & Community Partnerships Gavin Kleespies at 617-646-0515 or gkleespies@masshist.org.


About the Massachusetts Historical Society

Founded in 1791, the MHS is an independent research library and manuscript repository dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing the history of Massachusetts and the nation. The Society serves as a vital resource for scholars, educators, and the general public, offering a wide range of programs, exhibitions, and publications that illuminate the past and inform the present.