'We have to change the energy': Pittsfield protest aims to draw community together (copy)

Kamaar Taliaferro, right, helped organize a Park Square rally in July 2016 to draw attention to the 136 police killings of Black people in the first half of that year. "Even if it's just folks sitting around talking — that community aspect of things is important," he said at the event.

PITTSFIELD — Kamaar Taliaferro, of Pittsfield, is among the Black leaders across Massachusetts who will be honored Monday at an event organized by the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus.

The caucus holds the Black Excellence on the Hill celebration annually to recognize Black community leaders. Anyone can register at bit.ly/3swxZrb to attend the virtual event at 6 p.m. Monday.

Taliaferro chairs the housing committee of the county NAACP chapter and is a member of Westside Legends.

In a news release, state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, who nominated Taliaferro, described him as “often in the background, but very much a leader and team player.”

Shirley Edgerton called Taliaferro a “genius” for his work to promote fair and affordable housing.

“A community activist from a very young age, Kamaar helps people with housing evictions and assists with overcoming obstacles that prevent them from staying housed and getting housing,” she said in the release. “He is solution oriented.”

Taliaferro also worked to help Pittsfield residents understand federal aid funds coming into the city and has served on a housing working group assembled by 1Berkshire and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.

In addition, Taliaferro promotes farm-to-table eating and local agriculture, and he has worked with a local financial institution to highlight the history of redlining and its role in widening racial wealth gaps.