By Ryan Grewal, city editor
The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) invited Boston-area intellectuals, activists and entrepreneurs Wednesday night to discuss political and social movements as a part of the City Talks series.
The discussion, titled “Movements: How Is Boston Working towards Progress?,” jumped from topic to topic, covering subjects as varied as President-elect Donald J. Trump, wellness, nonprofit funding, activism, hip-hop and author James Baldwin.
The diverse and lively panel included Nadeem Mazen, a Cambridge city councilor; Marcyliena Morgan, a professor of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University; Reggie Williams, a political activist; and Heather C. White, a local entrepreneur.
Mazen, an activist who gained office through a grassroots campaign, emphasized seeking actionable change. He stressed the ability of small groups of likeminded people to enact change through persistent action.
“I hope that gatherings like this one are places where groups of three [or] four people can come together and make progress,” Mazen said.
Williams spoke about the importance of venturing out of one’s comfort zone to progress as a community, specifically focusing on his experience in the nonprofit sector.
“We stay looking at the traditional model of philanthropy where we all compete for funding instead of growing the port together,” Williams said.
Morgan, whose scholarship focuses on hip-hop, addressed the perception of younger generations as overly individualistic and unconcerned with group progress. She said that older people should take responsibility for hindering youth progress.
“I think that [members of my generation] are the problem, not the generation producing the level of individualism that’s going to set them back,” Morgan said.
Dozens of people attended the event and contributed to the interactive section after the panel discussion. During a lengthy question and answer session, members of the audience asked the panelists about issues such as the importance of space, both physical and intangible, as well as safe spaces and wellness resources in the Boston area, like the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and Partners HealthCare.
Justina Crawford, manager of lectures, courses and concerts at the MFA, said that City Talks series will extend beyond Wednesday night’s event.
“It’s a thing that will continue to be explored,” Crawford said. “It’s not something that will be answered in one day.”
Crawford said the next City Talk will be in March and the series will continue into the summer.