McCormack Speaks

January 27, 2020
by jackli001
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PhD Student Allyson Bachta Represents McCormack School at MLK Memorial Breakfast 2020, Shares Her Experience

Photo of Allyson Bachta, CRHSGG PhD StudentPhoto of MGS Community at 50th Year MLK Memorial Breakfast

This January 20th, politicians, religious leaders and the Greater Boston community, came together at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to honor MLK at the longest running celebration of its kind in the country. The theme for this year’s 50th anniversary event was “The Struggle Continues: Moving Forward Together.” In a passionate speech made by U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley, we were reminded that the Civil Rights Movement is not over!

Representative Pressley’s remarks brought me back to Spring Break 2019, when I traveled South to trace the journey of Martin Luther King Jr. from Boston University PhD student to one of the most well recognized and respected freedom fighters of all time. Carrying copies of “Stride Toward Freedom”[1] and “A Call to Conscience,”[2] I visited historical sites and read summaries of events in situ from his perspective. Arriving on the steps of his parsonage in Montgomery, Alabama, I was chosen by the tour guide to unlock the front door of the home that he shared with Coretta Scott King and his children during the time that he was pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. This was the same community where he was “spontaneously” and unanimously nominated to lead and organize the year-long bus boycott associated with the arrest of Rosa Parks. Legend has it that this was a pre-planned nomination made by a community elder that occurred after he arrived late to a meeting from running copies on the mimeograph (Never miss a staff meeting, am I right?). Essentially, this small decision changed the course of history as we know it.

To get to the door, I had to step around the paver memorializing the spot where a bomb was left on January 30, 1956 in order to claim the set of keys dangling from the tour guide’s hands. I was overwhelmed and awed at being allowed to touch and open the same door that MLK and his family walked through every single day. Those that know me well would not be surprised to learn that just like every other door lock that I have ever encountered, I wasn’t able to open it on the first try. After some help entering the home, we walked past a reproduction of Coretta’s piano, through the dining room with its large pocket doors, past the long table where the Southern Christian Leadership Conference was formed, into the library his church built for him so that he could spend more time with his family while finishing his dissertation, and into the kitchen, where red silk flowers Coretta received from Martin a month before his assassination were centered on their original Formica kitchen table.

It was at this same table where I was seated that King himself sat to “think of a way to move out of the picture without appearing a coward”[3] one night after receiving yet another phone call at home threatening his life. At this same table where I sat, perhaps in the very seat that I occupied, he prayed: “I am here taking a stand for what I believe is right. But now I am afraid. The people are looking to me for leadership, and if I stand before them without strength and courage, they too will falter. I am at the end of my powers. I have nothing left. I’ve come to the point where I can’t face it alone.”[4] While surrounded by these touchstones of the Civil Rights movement, in my inclination to respectfully canonize its participants, at times I have easily lost focus on the fact that they were ordinary people who did extraordinary things, in the face of real fear. But, Martin Luther King Jr was not fearless, or tireless, or without human fault.

Within our own backyard we have the opportunity to remember not only the collaboration between Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King as married partners who met while attending Boston area colleges, but of the urgent need for policy change in addressing the existence and perpetuation of systemic racism and poverty. While these issues were at the very heart of the Civil Rights Movement, more than fifty years later, systemic poverty is still reinforced and perpetuated by inappropriate and ineffective policies and the wealth gap continues to grow across the country.

In that moment of kitchen table prayer, Martin tells of becoming overwhelmed with peace and hearing an inner voice that told him to “Stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth…”[5] So, I ask you: where and how will you stand up for righteousness and truth? What steps can you take within your studies, research, teaching, and leadership to continue the work that MLK began as a student in the Boston area? How will you push through the fear and exhaustion that comes with the effort of making systemic change? What will you say that needs saying to stop people from “being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression?”[6] Just like my trouble with doors locks, we will most definitely not be successful on the first try and we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help from others when we meet resistance.

“I want to say that in all of our actions, we must stick together. Unity is the great need of the hour, and if we are united, we can get many of the things that we not only desire but which we justly deserve. And don’t let anybody frighten you. We are not afraid of what we are doing, because we are doing it within the law. There is never a time in our American democracy that we must ever think we are wrong when we protest…” – Martin Luther King Jr

“Joy is a necessary act of resistance.” – Representative Ayanna Pressley


Allyson Bachta is a current Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance student. She has earned an M.S. in Global and International Education from Drexel University, an M.Ed in Science Curriculum and Instruction and a B.S. in Exercise Physiology, both from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Her research interests include:

Peace education initiatives in conflict/post-conflict societies
Truth and reconciliation commissions
Community dialogue for collective action and restorative justice
Non-violent social movements
Intercultural communication


References

[1] King, Martin Luther. Stride Toward Freedom. 3rd ed. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2010.

[2] Carson, Clayborne, and Kris Shepard, eds. A Call to Conscience. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing, 2001.

[3] King, Stride Toward Freedom, 125.

[4] Ibid, 125.

[5] Carson, Clayborne. “The Violence of Desperate Men.” In The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr, 63–82. New York City, NY: Warner Books, 1998, 77.

[6] King, Martin Luther. “First MIA Mass Meeting.” First MIA Mass Meeting. December 5, 1955.

December 18, 2019
by jackli001
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Climate for Cooperation

By James Whitacre, PhD Student in Global Governance and Human Security & Research Associate, Center for Governance and Sustainability

Photo of Jack Whitacre

While news reports dramatize US-China relations as prickly at best, an unsung story of cooperation moves steadily forward. Science is helping to build bridges while diplomacy struggles.

Indeed, climate change, with its disdain for national boundaries, will often require international responses, and may therefore be a key driver of global collaboration, led by scientists.

One example: GOA-ON (Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network) — a global effort to measure the increasing acid content of the ocean includes a large number of organizations – governmental and NGOs worldwide, with the U.S. and China taking leading roles. U.S. organizations include Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Carnegie Institution for Science, along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The state Oceanic Administration of China is also involved, as are Tianjin University and the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute.

As news outlets give the impression that trade negotiations between the U.S. and China are perpetually on the brink either of success or collapse, scientists from both countries – and many others — are working together steadily to measure acidification in a variety of marine environments, and limit its potentially disastrous effects on organisms small and large.

The focus of my own research is on wetlands, including coasts, which also often require collaborative approaches. Strategies for bringing this about were explored earlier this year at a workshop organized by McCormack Graduate School, Tufts, B.U. and MIT. The workshop looked in part at science diplomacy and the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements. Dean David Cash and Associate Professor Maria Ivanova were among the lead presenters.

GOA-ON, the collaborative looking at ocean acidification, is a perfect case study of mostly non-governmental actors – namely scientific actors — setting and shaping research agendas, standards, and international cooperation through novel partnerships and communities of practice. Such efforts are on the rise, and that is good news.

March 27, 2019
by saadiaahmad001
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UMass Boston First Africa Day a Major Success, Draws Over 100 Attendees

by Hannah Brown, PhD Candidate in Global Governance and Human Security

The Africa Scholars Forum at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston launched its first Africa day with the theme Pan Africa Rising on February 27th, 2019.

The event featured Keynote speakers, discussion panels, graduate students’ flash talks, African Marketplace, luncheon and a gala night reception with Afrobeat DJ and African food from Suya Joint, Cesaria, and Ashur restaurants. The opening address by Dr. Edozie and Keynote addresses by Professor Robinson and Zadi Zokou explored African liberation, decolonization, and connecting African immigrants and African Americans respectively. Panel discussions were on African perspectives on democracy, security and global governance and Beyond neoliberalism: the prospects for a Pan African economics.

Africa Day was a premier event that hopes to establish an interdisciplinary university-wide African studies presence in the University of Massachusetts, Boston (UMass Boston). The event aligns with the goals of the Africa Scholars Forum, which include developing an undergraduate minor and graduate certificate in African studies. The forum also seeks to engage students at UMass Boston with Africa programming missions and create undergraduate student research initiatives on African study. Moreover, it will establish a platform for deepened Africa research study for graduate students and promote existing and new faculty and student exchanges with African studies programs and universities in Africa, especially for study abroad programs and community research.

November 7, 2018
by saadiaahmad001
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Topol Grant Research Team Publishes First Article on Scaling Up Grassroots Nonviolent Movements

The Topol Peace Data Initiative seeks to explore the ways in which grassroots peace initiatives and nonviolent movements for social change can be scaled up and applied at an international scale. Members of the research team recently published its first article with Sage Journals, entitled: “Scaling Social Movements Through Social Media: The Case of Black Lives Matter.”

According to the abstract, the article explores the potential role of social media in helping movements expand and strengthen their impact, utilizing a case study of the Black Lives Matter movement to present the possibilities of social media to build connections, mobilize participants and resources, build coalitions, and amplify alternative narratives.

The article was co-authored by Marcia Mundt, a public policy doctoral student, along with Dr. Karen Ross, assistant professor of conflict resolution, and Charla Burnett, a global governance and human security doctoral student.

The publication is available as an open access article here.

October 24, 2018
by saadiaahmad001
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New Book by Associate Dean Kiki Edozie examines Global African Diaspora Through Multidisciplinary Lenses

 

Professor Rita Kiki Edozie, Associate Dean of the McCormack Graduate School, recently published her latest book on global African diaspora. It is an anthology that presents a new study of African diaspora through diverse, interdisciplinary perspectives. Professor Edozie sat down with McCormack Speaks to share more about her book.

 

SA: Where did you get the idea for this book?

RE: Given my own identity as an African immigrant to the US, I’ve had a longstanding personal and intellectual interest in the public policy of diversity of people of African descent in the US from the perspective of transnational and migration studies, immigration studies, and cross-cultural studies. When President Obama was elected, his Kenyan ancestry – among his other multiple identities, including spending time in Indonesia – intrigued many. Needless to say, however, the President’s identity especially triggered a debate about identity and the rootedness and dynamism of African heritage in the US, the Americas, and around the world. As such, the title of the book, New Frontiers in the Global African Diaspora, was inspired by these interests to trace, identify, analyze, and document the array of diverse experiences and political circumstances of African heritage peoples around the world.

 

SA: What gap in the literature does your book address?

RE: African Diaspora Studies has become an emergent but stable sub-discipline of both African American Studies on the one hand, and African Studies on the other. Some refer to the study as the great bridge between the two. It has become the intellectual study that informs the intersections, nexuses, interactions, and exchanges of the politics, economics, cultural and social studies of African descendant peoples. The study has become a global ethnic and area study which has now expanded the study of African Americans from an ethnic-national focus, as well as expanded the study of Africa from a comparative- area/regional basis that now integrates both as a global, diasporic study. In advancing this trend in African Diaspora Studies, our book – note that my co-editors are Michigan State University professors, Dr. Glenn Chambers and Dr. Tama Hamilton Wray –fills a gap in the Study of the African Diaspora. We are distinctive, I believe, in articulating the contours of the global trend and shift while also pedestaling and repositioning the continent of Africa in relation to this global expansion.

SA: What types of projects and dialogues do you hope this book will inspire?

RE: I’ll cite the book’s blurb written by Canadian Professor of English Ato Quayson, who also has Ghanaian heritage and has written extensively on the topic of new African Diasporas (see his own book  titled, Oxford Street, Accra: City Life and the Itineraries of Transnationalism). Quayson says of our book, “….New Frontiers…pairs a candid enigma – what is the African Diaspora? – with a set of essays that tackles the question from a variety of perspectives.”

As well, Jean Rahier, Professor of African Diaspora Studies at Florida International University whose own co-edited Volume on African Diaspora Studies, Global Circuits of Blackness: Interrogating the African Diaspora, inspired our book with his afterword. While commending our work for its recognition of the “transnationality” of the African Diaspora and for our positioning Africa’s coeval location and relationships with peoples of the African Diaspora globally, Rahier pushes our study to incorporate European and/or Australian based scholarship on the African Diaspora which would have appropriately pushed the limit of our expansionist African Diaspora theme appropriately further. Finally, in addition to what we significantly refer to as “global pivots,” “repositioning Africa,” “exploring uncharted African diasporas in Latin America and the Caribbean” – all significant talking points that I know will create debates and discussions – we uniquely raise a disciplinary question about how African Diasporas are represented in our section on “Humanities African Diasporas.” In doing so, our contributing authors present chapters on the filmic representations of the Garifuna, Nigerian cinema (Nollywood in Brazil), Ethiopian filmmakers in the US, African film festivals in Canada, Afro-Danish artists in New Orleans, and Afro-Peruvian artists among other creative representations of African Diaspority.

SA: How have your affiliations with the McCormack Graduate School and UMass Boston assisted with the publication of this book?

RE: While the genesis of the book project began with my recently previous role as Professor of International Relations and Director of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University, the completion of the manuscript occurred with my current appointment as Professor of Global Governance, Human Security, and International Relations and Associate Dean here at the McCormack Graduate School. From the vantage point of this book where now I’ve left what one former city council member in Detroit called, “The African city of Detroit,” I find myself in Cosmopolitan Boston where African and African American diversity is just as intriguing.

Now in Greater Boston, with my colleagues from the Trotter Institute of Black Culture, the Asian American Studies Institute, the Gaston Latin American Studies Institute, and the Native American Institute, I continue the study of the Public Policy of African Diaspority in an American region. With our project, “The Changing Faces of Massachusetts,” I am especially intrigued by the large communities of Black Bostonians, Cabo Verdes, Haitians, Nigerians, Somali, and other communities of African descent who have for so long contributed to the socio-cultural formation of the region here. Our study will deepen the research that I began in the current book, and perhaps provide the opportunity to present more empirical and policy evidence of the dynamism and complex relations of these communities and their impact on American life.

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