Roxbury Community College (RCC) continued celebrating its 50th Anniversary with a two-day Academic Symposium November 2 and November 3 called “Learning, Innovating, Responding: The Power of Education in building Thriving Communities.” The event provided attendees with an opportunity to listen, learn and reflect on the invaluable role of community colleges and their surrounding communities.
“I hope RCC will continue to serve as the home for these important and thought-provoking conversations,” said Roxbury Community College Interim President Jackie Jenkins-Scott. “The College is uniquely positioned to convene and facilitate discussions that impact the entire community.”
While speakers covered topics ranging from affirmative action, citizenship, restorative justice, wealth generation and more, themes of resiliency, perseverance, excellence and perhaps most importantly, grace, were central to all panel discussions.
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Co-Founder of the Emancipator and nationally recognized scholar on anti-racism, and Dr. Makeeba McCreary opened the symposium with a keynote discussion on the role of narratives in challenging systemic racism, promoting inclusivity, and shaping a more equitable society.
Jeneé Osterheldt and Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten closed the first day of the symposium with a candid discussion on how their upbringings shaped their professional lives and were later joined by leaders from the MA Department of Education to discuss ways in which leaders can continue to ensure diverse campuses in light of the recent Supreme Court decision on affirmative action.
Bakari Sellers keynote address to open day two November 3 focused on two central questions – How did we get here? And how do we keep going? He encouraged all in attendance to be a leader and example to their colleagues and peers.
During the lunch and fireside chat, “Ensuring our Industries Reflect the Diversity of our Students”, panelists encouraged industry leaders to seek partnerships with community colleges to address workforce challenges. Dr. Lane Glenn reiterated that 97% of Black students in MA are enrolled in community colleges and state universities, and that industries must partner with community colleges to ensure a diverse workforce.
In the panel discussion “Unleashing the Power of Wealth Generation: Transforming the Economy through Empowerment” moderated by Betty Francisco, panelists Courtney Brunson, Andrea Silbert, Grace Lee, and Lou Sahlu shared their insights on impact investing, philanthropy, and policies that promote inclusive economic growth. They discussed a critical need for economic justice initiatives to include policy changes and social programs. Initiatives aimed at reducing inequality and promoting a more equitable distribution of economic resources and opportunities help us to reimagine traditional economic models.
Interim President Jackie Jenkins-Scott and Dr Drew Faust, President Emerita Harvard University, closed the symposium with an important discussion on “necessary trouble,” sharing their hopes for the future of higher education.
The final event to be held to mark Roxbury Community College’s 50th anniversary will be the Golden Jubilee Gala February 24. One of the highlights will be the unveiling of a commissioned art installation by renowned local artists Napoleon Jones-Henderson and Stephen Hamilton to acknowledge the crucial ongoing support that the community has offered over the past half century.