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Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice Membership

Office of the President
Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020

Subject: Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice Membership - A Message from President Clark

Dear BSU community,

On July 17, 2020, a true national hero passed away, a man whose monumental, courageous self-sacrifice for country and his fellow human beings should be immortalized by all Americans who care about peace, justice and human rights. In one of his last acts, Congressman John Lewis penned an op-ed that appeared in The New York Times on the day of his funeral. I urge you to listen to his words, and I share with you a few of his thoughts:

“Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life, I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.”

In his final days, Mr. Lewis found inspiration in the Black Lives Matter movement as do we at Bridgewater State University. It is our duty to walk in peace and to live up to our values as a community, just as Mr. Lewis called upon his fellow citizens to live up to the highest ideals of America.

At BSU, we can and will do better. The Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice will assist this university in living up to our highest ideals as a caring and welcoming community. Over the past several weeks, with input from across the campus and in consultation with me, Task Force leaders have been busy identifying other members to serve on the Task Force. Frankly, the most difficult part of this process has been in limiting the group to a reasonable number of members in light of the many outstanding candidates who have been nominated or put their names forward. I am truly honored to announce that the following 21 people have been chosen to serve on the Task Force, representing our entire BSU community, including faculty, students, staff, administrators, alumni and members of our wider community, and who join the seven previously announced chairs and vice-chairs:

Student Representatives

Keith Abaka
TJ Hairston
Tiffany Harriott
Emily Portela
Gabriella Rivera

Faculty Representatives

(Faculty are chosen through an MSCA-led process)
Dr. Joyce Rain Anderson
Dr. Diana Fox
Dr. Michael King
Dr. Jibril Solomon

Staff Representatives

Diane Bell
Glenn Gonsalves
Dominga “Mingy” Penha
David Tillinghast, Esq.
Sabrina Victor

Administration Representatives

Dr. Sabrina Gentlewarrior
Dr. Brenda Molife
Dr. Joe Oravecz
Dr. Jenny Olin Shanahan

Alumni Representative

Mary Ankomah

Community Representatives

George Gurley
Marquis Taylor

Complete biographies of all members of the Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice can be found here.

On behalf of the entire university, I would like to thank each member of the Task Force for the enormously important work that will be undertaken in the weeks and months ahead. We are all deeply grateful for your service in advancing this serious cause.

I would also like to take a moment to briefly restate the role and purpose of the Task Force. The Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice is charged first and foremost to listen carefully to our campus community. The Task Force will initiate sometimes difficult conversations across the university, learn from the experiences of students and employees of color on our campus, understand our opportunities for improvement as a university and research/identify wise practices to help us do better. Ultimately, the Task Force is charged with developing a set of action-oriented recommendations to direct our efforts in building, as Lewis said, the Beloved Community on our campus. The Task Force is in no way intended to displace or subsume the many activities and initiatives already occurring at BSU to advance racial and social justice and promote equity; this important work will continue and will also help to inform the work of the Task Force. Moving forward, the chairs of the Task Force — Davede Alexander, Dr. Mary Grant and Dr. Carolyn Petrosino — will keep the BSU community informed about the work of the Task Force and opportunities for the campus to engage in conversation and action.

I leave you with Congressman Lewis’ final public words; let it be a touchstone for us as we advance the hard work of racial justice:

“When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So, I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”


With warmest regards,
Frederick W. Clark Jr., Esq.