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Juneteenth, Racial Justice Task Force Update and Next Steps

Office of the President
Friday, June 19, 2020

Subject: Juneteenth, Racial Justice Task Force Update and Next Steps - A Message from President Clark

Dear BSU community,

Today, we celebrate the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, marking the occasion when the promise of emancipation proclaimed nearly three years earlier was finally realized throughout the United States. But, as we know, the struggle for true freedom and equality neither began nor ended there. As Jamelle Bouie wrote yesterday in The New York Times, “Emancipation wasn’t a gift bestowed on the slaves; it was something they took for themselves, the culmination of their long struggle for freedom … In fighting that struggle, black Americans would open up new vistas of democratic possibility for the entire country.”

Bridgewater State University fully supports the Black Lives Matter movement as it continues that struggle, a struggle to make our nation live up to its highest ideals of freedom and equality. Here, on our campus and in our community, we commit ourselves to bold action that puts into practice our values of diversity, inclusion and equality for all.

In furtherance of that commitment, I am pleased to announce the vice chairs of the BSU Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice representing our students, faculty and librarians, staff and alumni: Anna Rice, president of the Student Government Association; Dr. Jakari N. Griffith, associate professor of management; Sydné Martins Marrow, director of the Center for Multicultural Affairs; and Samantha Joseph, president of the BSU Afro-American Alumni Association.

Anna Rice is entering her senior year and second term as president of the Student Government Association. A first-generation student majoring in political science and minoring in economics, Anna is a sister of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority and currently is a senior administrative intern in Congressman Joe Kennedy III’s office. After graduating from BSU, Anna hopes to earn her master's degree in political science and eventually work in a congressional office, focusing on issues of housing inequality, racial injustice and women's rights.

Dr. Jakari Griffith is associate professor of management concentrating on issues of organizational behavior, positive psychology and leadership, and recipient of a 2019 Award for Academic Excellence. Dr. Griffith received his Ph.D. in organizational behavior from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research is focused on assisting ex-offenders find suitable employment once they are released from prison. The route from prison to work is little understood, and Dr. Griffith is intent on removing the stigma attached to former inmates when they enter the job market and educating employers and incentivizing them to hire individuals after they are released. The son of a former New York City police officer, Dr. Griffith’s own brother was the victim of deadly gun violence. “I honor my brother not only by grieving, but also by my actions,” he has said. He expressed that he is “excited to be joining this Task Force, which represents the very best of our BSU values in that we come together in times of crisis and change to support and challenge one another to be the very best versions of ourselves.”

Sydné Martins Marrow really needs no introduction. As director of the Center for Multicultural Affairs in the Division of Student Success and Diversity, she is fervently engaged in identifying and implementing strategies to close achievement and opportunity gaps for all students, and especially those from marginalized backgrounds. She advises the Cape Verdean Student Association, Sister Scholars, and many committees related to social justice and retention efforts. Sydné is a graduate of Boston College and received her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership at BSU. She is a member of the Brockton Chapter of the NAACP, volunteers with the ACT-SO program in memory of her late husband who was a champion of Brockton youth and educational programs, and serves on the Board of Trustees for Girls, Inc. of Taunton, Massachusetts. "I am encouraged by the spirit of this new Special Presidential Taskforce on Racial Justice during this time of unrest,” she said. “Striving for equity and fighting for social justice is our responsibility if we truly believe that the promise of a better tomorrow is in the positive development of today's youth."

Finally, I am pleased that Samantha Joseph, ’04, president-elect of the BSU Afro-American Alumni Association is joining the Task Force as a vice chair. Samantha is a first-generation Haitian-Honduran American who earned her B.S. in Psychology from Bridgewater State University and her Master of Social Work from Boston University. She currently serves as the Intensive Care Coordinator at Y.O.U. Inc., a leading child welfare, behavioral health, and education agency dedicated to helping children and families flourish and reach their full potential. As an undergraduate, Samantha was a leader and member of the Haitian Cultural Club and Sister Scholars and was mentored and supported by many Afro-American alumni. She is paying it forward by living the mission of the Afro-American Alumni Association: to reflect, connect, and make a difference in the lives of today’s diverse student and alumni population.

I want to again express my heartfelt appreciation to Anna, Jakari, Sydné and Samantha for their service to BSU and lending their enormous talents, experience and heart to the important work ahead of us.

Next Steps

BSU will host its second Community Forum on Racial Justice on Tuesday, June 23, from 5:00 P.M. to 6:30 P.M. As Dr. Mary Grant, co-chair of the Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice and Senior Administrative Fellow for Civics and Social Justice, wrote yesterday, this forum will provide another opportunity to listen to our campus community and engage in dialogue to help us shape and determine the important work ahead for the Task Force. If you have not done so already, you may register here to participate in the Forum.

In addition to the three chairs announced last week and the four co-chairs today, the Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice will include 18 other members representing students, faculty and librarians, administrators, staff, alumni and the wider community. Not surprisingly, because of who we are, many of you have already reached out to volunteer your time to serve on the Task Force. We will be announcing these additional Task Force members shortly, and I thank them in advance for their service. Of course, the Task Force has been charged with leading a highly inclusive process, so all members of the BSU community will have a voice in advancing this important work.

Warmest regards,
Frederick W. Clark Jr., Esq.