A dream imagined: Race, ethnicity and the struggle for Boston’s future on May 20

(BOSTON, May 17, 2017) – The political and social climate has changed since the last election, and even more so since A Dream Deferred: Changing demographics, challenges, and new opportunities for Boston, a report published by UMass Boston and the Boston Foundation published twenty years ago. Inspired by the report’s anniversary, CANALA, a collaborative of all four UMass Boston race and ethnic institutes, will host a day-long conference for leaders and community activists. CANALA will present current sociodemographic data and explore ways for communities and organizations to collaborate across racial and ethnic lines to strengthen their influence and promote greater equity and inclusion in the city.

On Saturday, May 20, the Institute For Asian American Studies, the Institute For New England Native American Studies, the Mauricio Gastón Institute For Latino Community Development And Public Policy, and William Monroe Trotter Institute for the Study of Black Culture will bring together leaders from Boston communities of color and UMass Boston experts to identify areas and plan for collaboration across racial and ethnic lines to effectively address persistent problems of inequality and neglect. The conference is called “A Dream Imagined”, offering a twist to the title of the original report, which took its name from a poem by Langston Hughes.

“This conference aims at realizing the imagined dream of a Boston reflecting diversity, equity, and full inclusion. Cross racial collaboration will be a way for communities to advance their shared hopes and destinies,” said Paul Watanabe, director of the Institute for Asian American Studies and the lead author of “A Dream Deferred”, which was published in 1996.

“Part of our mission is to empower residents to organize and create a vibrant neighborhood in collaboration with community partners. This is current and urgent. I’m glad to be part of an event that will encourage cooperation across diverse organizations,” said Juan Leyton, Executive Director at Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative.

“Now is a critical moment to recognize and amplify the voices and needs of deliberately disadvantaged communities that are facing sharper threats in shifting political times. It is particularly important to be building these alliances in Boston, a city that is still tarnished by a history of intolerance and prejudice. Yet as the nation’s education capital, Boston also has the potential to set a positive standard of inclusion, equity and justice. This conference is designed to help diverse groups in the city work together toward those goals,” said Barbara Lewis, Director of the William Monroe Trotter Institute for the Study of Black History and Culture.

The program will include two panels comprised of five community leaders each, from organizations that have experience working in cross-racial coalitions, a presentation of updated sociodemographic data, breakout sessions to tackle topics like health and human services, criminal justice, education, arts and culture, and housing, among others, and a wrap-up final discussion to summarize takeaways and next steps. This conference is made possible by funding from the UMass Boston Office of Strategic Initiatives and Eastern Bank.

“A Dream Imagined: Race, Ethnicity and the Struggle for Boston’s Future”
Saturday, May 20, 2017
8:30 am – 4:00 pm
University of Massachusetts Boston
Campus Center – Ballroom A
Registration: adreamimagined2017.eventbrite.com or calling at 917-836-7335


UMass Boston’s Collaborative of Asian American, Native American, Latino and African American Institutes. UMass Boston is one of only two universities in the country with free-standing research institutes dedicated to four major communities of color in the U.S: African American, Asian American, Latino and Native American.  As the umbrella for the four institutes, CANALA provides in-depth research, community engagement, education and thought leadership aimed at: advancing opportunity and equity for diverse racial and ethnic communities in greater Boston and throughout Massachusetts; fostering communication, cooperation and collective action across racial and ethnic boundaries for Boston’s majority-minority population; and helping to shape and support social, economic and cultural understanding of the evolving racial and ethnic diversities in Boston, Massachusetts, New England and beyond. Each individual institute brings experience and expertise addressing a wide variety of issues of concern to the communities it serves; each has built important relationships with community partners throughout the Boston area and statewide while working to promote equity and opportunity for students of color on the UMass Boston campus.

About the Institute for Asian American Studies

The Institute for Asian American Studies (IAAS) utilizes resources and expertise from the university and the community to conduct research on Asian Americans; to strengthen and further Asian American involvement in political, economic, social, and cultural life; and to improve opportunities and campus life for Asian American faculty, staff, and students and for those interested in Asian Americans. Current projects include a detailed portrait of the Vietnamese community in Fields Corner, and capacity-building for the APIs ICAN! Network to improve access to services for limited English speaking Asian Americans. IAAS is leading a two-year, multi-university NIH-funded study using computer technology to build the health literacy of residents of Boston’s Chinatown regarding highway pollution, partnering with the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center.  Additional partners in the Asian American community include the Asian American Resource Workshop, Viet Aid and the Chinese Progressive Association. For more information visit http://www.umb.edu/iaas.

About the Institute for New England Native American Studies

The Institute for New England Native American Studies (INENAS) works to develop collaborative relationships, projects, and programs between Native American tribes and organizations of the New England region and all of the UMass campuses. INENAS is currently the academic partner for a federal grant from the Department of Justice’s Office of Violence Against Women to the North American Indian Center of Boston, has worked with the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services to develop culturally competent approaches to alcohol and drug use among Native American teens, and recently completed a Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities-funded project bringing together Native communities from throughout the state to examine issues of current and historical concern from a human rights perspective. INENAS partners with a wide variety of tribes and organizations, including North American Indian Center of Boston, the Mashpee Wampanoag and Nipmuc tribes, Native American Lifelines, Native American Awareness and the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs. For more information visit http://www.umb.edu/inenas.

About the Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy
The Mauricio Gastón Institute for Latino Community Development and Public Policy works to inform policymakers about issues vital to the Massachusetts’ growing Latino population, and to promote equity, opportunity and civic engagement in Latino communities. The Gastón has recently completed a five-year NIH-funded community-based participatory research project addressing communication about sexual health between Puerto Rican mothers and children, and an initiative funded by the Office of Minority Health to enroll uninsured Latinos in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. The Gastón’s research on English Language Learners in the Boston Public Schools was instrumental in improving policies and practices toward Boston’s ELL students. The Gastón reaches out to the Latino community through biannual regional gatherings and recently sponsored a statewide conference on ELLs and charter schools. The Gastón’s greater Boston community partners have include Hyde Square Task Force, Alianza Hispana, East Boston Ecumenical Community Council, and Greater Boston Latino Network. For more information visit http://www.umb.edu/gastoninstitute.

About the William Monroe Trotter Institute for the Study of Black History and Culture

The William Monroe Trotter Institute for the Study of Black History and Culture addresses the needs and concerns of African heritage communities in Boston and Massachusetts through research, technical assistance, and public service. The Trotter recently received grants from the Boston Foundation and Hyams Foundation for its Rising Tide project, an intergenerational leadership development initiative bringing together Boston youth and young adults with veteran social justice activists. A recent Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts supported a community-wide exploration of African diaspora immigration. The Trotter’s most recent report, “Blacks in Massachusetts: Comparative Demographic, Social and Economic Experiences with Whites, Latinos and Asians”, brings together scholars from a range of disciplines for a comprehensive look at the status of Black lives in the state. The Trotter has worked with a variety of community partners throughout Boston area, including Union of Minority Neighborhoods, the Boston Public Library, Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Franklin Park Coalition, Fairmount Indigo Network, Skylab, and the BARE (Boston Alliance for Racial Equity) Initiative. For more information visit http://www.umb.edu/trotter.

About UMass Boston
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city’s history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 17,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit www.umb.edu.
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