On June 18 and 19th, 2020 The MGH Radiology DEI Committee in collaboration with The Front Porch Arts Collective, and with support of the MGH Office of Equity and Inclusion and the MGH Center for Diversity and Inclusion celebrated Juneteenth with a series of talks, discussions, and performances centered on celebrating the black experience. These virtual events were open to the public.
Juneteenth ostensibly celebrates the end of slavery in America. It was on June 19th, 1865 that Union solders under the command of Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas and decried that the US Civil War had ended and all enslaved people were free. It is important to understand two facts regarding this event in history:
- It occurred two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation became law (Jan 1 1863).
- It was only following the arrival of Maj. Gen. Granger that the Union forces were strong enough to enforce the proclamation as there were minimal number of Union troops in Galveston prior to his arrival.
Juneteenth Keynote Address
Hasan Kwame Jeffries, PhD
Dr. Hasan Jeffries was born in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, the nation’s leading institution for educating African American men. He later earned his MA in American History from Duke University, and his PhD in American History specializing in African American History after that.
In 2009, Hasan published his first book, Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt (NYU Press). His current book project, entitled Stealing Home: Ebbets Field and Black Working Class Life in PostCivil Rights New York, explores the struggle of working class African Americans to secure and enjoy their freedom rights, from the height of the civil rights era through the present, by examining the experiences of the residents of Ebbets Field Apartments, an expansive, 1,200 unit, affordable housing complex built in 1962 on the site of old Ebbets Field, the former home of Major League Baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers. He travels frequently to the South to visit friends, and returns often to Brooklyn to visit family.
Our Voices – Poetry and Perspective from Boston Artists
L’Merchie Frazier is a visual artist, performance artist, educator and activist. She is the Director of Education at the Museum of African American History in Boston and an artist in the AfricanAmerican Master Artist-in-Residence Program at Northeastern University.
Dzidzor (Jee-Jaw) is an African folklore, performing artist, author and entrepreneur. Dzidzor’s style of call and response, has reimagined poetry and storytelling to include the audience in an experience to challenge, inspire and encourage self beyond traditional forms.
Front Porch Collective – A Conversation with HipStory, BAMSfest, and Castle of Our Skins Moderated by Dawn Simmons
Dawn is a director, playwright, arts administrator, educator, and cultural consultant living in Somerville,MA. She is the Artistic Director of The Front Porch Arts Collective, Boston’s newest Black theatre company committed to advancing racial equity in Boston through theater (www.frontporcharts.org), founded in 2008.
Beyond Walls – Using Creativity to Strengthen Communities
Beyond-Walls uses a creative lens to address community needs. This diverse group believes cities best thrive when they are full of art and have engaged stakeholders and active spaces. Beyond-Walls introduces public art and curated experiences into the fabric of our communities by partnering with local organizations, municipalities, community members and experts to design, produce and manage projects and programs.
Virtual Black Heritage Tours By the Museum of African American History
The Black Heritage Tour is facilitated by Amelia Benstead. Amelia Benstead is a park ranger and has worked with the National Parks of Boston since 2015. She is currently pursuing a master’s of history at Simmons University and writing a thesis on the contributions of Boston’s women to the Underground Railroad in Boston.
Black @ MGH: The Black History of MGH
Healing words by Uchenna Joan Awa. Uche is from Item, Bende L.G.A, Abia State, Nigeria. She is a graduate of Abuja University, with a BL in law and subsequently served in the Nigerian National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) teaching legal processes to high-ranking police officers. is part of our MGH Spiritual Care team and is also a Resident in the Clinical Pastoral Education program. She subsequently practiced as a Barrister and Solicitor, then worked on policies aimed at promoting Gender and Social Inclusion. She subsequently obtained a BA in Theology and Masters of Divinity at Boston University School of Theology. Uchenna is currently pursuing a Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) residency program in Massachusetts General Hospital. Her interests include; International Development, gender equality, and conflict resolution.
Dr. Win Williams is an Associate Chief in the MGH Division of Nephrology. He is also the founding Director of MGH Center for Diversity and Inclusion. He graduated from Harvard College, cum laude, with a B.A. in Biochemical Sciences. He went to medical school at the New York University School of Medicine and completed his residency and fellowship training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His is a world-renowned expert in addressing disparities in the care of ethnic minority patients with end-stage renal disease and organ transplantation. The findings of his 2015 landmark study—published as the cover article for the American Journal of Transplantation—helped provide the basis for a new kidney allocation algorithm, resulting in an increase in the rate of transplantation for ethnic minority patients in the US.
Message for the Future of Healthcare
LaShyra Nolen, known by her nickname, Lash, is an activist, writer, and rising second-year student at Harvard Medical School where she serves as student council president–the first documented Black woman to hold this position. Her commentary on health equity and justice has been featured in HuffPost, NPR, WBUR, Teen Vogue, Stat News, and the AAMC, among others and is a fervent advocate for social justice.
Closing Remarks and Words of Healing
Peter Slavin, MD is the president of Massachusetts General Hospital. Prior to becoming president in 2003 he served as chairman and chief executive officer of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization from 1999-2002. He also teaches internal medicine and health care management at Harvard Medical School, where he is a professor of health care policy.
Joseph Betancourt, MD, MPH, is the Vice President and Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer of Massachusetts General Hospital, the founder, senior advisor and faculty of the Disparities Solutions Center (DSC) at Mass General, Faculty at the Mongan Institute, and a practicing Internal Medicine physician. A nationally and internationally recognized expert in health care disparities, he served on several Institute of Medicine Committees, including those that produced the landmark reports, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care and In the Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Health-Care Workforce.
Healing words by Uchenna Joan Awa.