Caribbean Focus Program at RCC
From 1986 to 1997 RCC hosted a program of Caribbean study and action called the Caribbean Focus. The Caribbean Focus in a multicultural academic and community outreach program, reflection the heritage of many students and faculty at the college. The goals of the Caribbean Focus were:
The Caribbean Focus was initiated by a committee of RCC faculty and staff who began with a major Caribbean-wide conference in 1986. The committee, co-chaired by Dean Jose de Jesus and Professor Tom Reeves, held twice-monthly planning meetings for a year. This committee sponsored community meetings in 1987 involving more than fifty residents of the Caribbean immigrant communities of Boston. Based on decisions made at those meetings, a grass-roots program of study and action was designed - not as a traditional Caribbean Studies Program, but as a combination of student cultural awareness and community outreach. Objectives of the program were broadly political - to support the cultural and political sovereignty of the Caribbean nations; to work for social justice and economic empowerment of Caribbean nations and of Caribbean Communities in Boston; to bring students and community activists from diverse Caribbean groups together; to infuse RCC curriculum and campus life with Caribbean topics. Within that framework, the Caribbean Focus has not been partisan, but has included a wide range of political, cultural and economic views, open to participants from many religious, political and social groups.
The Caribbean Focus combined learning with action - specifically action by and for Caribbean communities, for economic empowerment, cultural autonomy and democracy. The Caribbean Focus was for many years the only undergraduate curriculum of Caribbean studies in the Boson area, and has been the only Caribbean Studies program in America with a grassroots community emphasis. Programs at other colleges, including Springfield Technical College, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Massachusetts at Boston, have drawn on ideas originated at Roxbury by the Caribbean Focus in creating programs of Caribbean study. Although originally proposed as one of two similar programs - the other was to have been the African Focus Program - the Caribbean Focus has remained the only program of international studies at RCC aid the only RCC-sponsored foreign field study.
The courses and programs of the Caribbean Focus have been designed and
carried out by RCC faculty and members of Work Groups consisting of scholars
and activists from the Caribbean communities. Course instructors have
always approved by the Academic Dean and have been part-time employees
of the college, or drawn from full-time faculty. The Caribbean Focus courses
including field study, were approved by the RCC Curriculum Committee in
1989. Acting President Hubie Jones approved the Caribbean Focus as an
academic and community outreach project of the Social Science Department
and named Professor Tom Reeves of the Social Science Department as Facilitator.
The program was presented by President Jones to the RCC Board of Trustees
for approval in 1991, and Professor Reeves was granted a semester free
of teaching in order to implement the program. Social Science Department
Chairman Angel Amy-Moreno has assisted in coordination, and served as
instructor and field study coordinator for Puerto Rico. The program was
supervised by an advisory Steering Committee from 1988 to 1991. The chairperson
of that body was Professor Bettye Hilmon. After 1991, each project has
been supervised by a Work Group, composed of RCC faculty, students and
alumnae, of community activists from the society to be studied, and of
scholars and community organizers from other agencies and institutions.
There have been five work groups; Puerto Rican Reality,
Jamaican Reality, Haitian Reality, Dominican Reality
and Cuban Reality.