In The People's Blog

I joined Representative Mindy Domb in nominating mother-daughter pair Debora Bridges and Anika Lopes for the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women’s (MCSW) annual Commonwealth Heroine Award. 

Each year MCSW partners with state legislators to identify women across the Commonwealth who make outstanding contributions to their organizations and in their communities. These Heroines are recognized for their invaluable efforts and extraordinary acts of service. The 20th Annual Commonwealth Heroines Class of 2023 was celebrated June 23, 2023, at the Massachusetts Statehouse in the Great Hall of Flags. 

Debora is a 6th generation Amherst resident who attended Amherst Public Schools and UMASS Amherst. She worked in finance for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health in Northampton and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in Boston for 25 years. She returned to Amherst in 2019 where she took up the efforts of her father, Dudley Bridges Sr., to bring the Amherst Civil War Tablets into permanent public view. Bridges is now the curator and docent of the Civil War Tablet exhibit at the Bangs Community Center which lists her close relatives among the soldiers who participated in the military actions that led to the origins of the now federal and state holiday of Juneteenth. 

A 7th generation member of the first Black and Afro-Indigenous families of Amherst, Anika attended Amherst Public Schools and college in New York City where she began a career as an internationally-renowned milliner and creative consultant. After returning to Amherst in 2019, Anika rejuvenated the initiative to find a permanent placement for the Civil War Tablets with her mother. She was elected to the Amherst Town Council in 2021 and in 2022, founded the Ancestral Bridges Foundation to center the neglected and lesser-known history of her ancestors who represent Black and Afro-Indigenous history of Amherst through arts and culture, educational programming.    

For more information on the event and for the full list of Commonwealth Heroines:

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