Metro

Community college presidents denounce racism

Bunker Hill Community College.

Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff/File 2011

Bunker Hill Community College.

The presidents of Massachusetts’ 15 community colleges signed a joint letter Thursday denouncing the racism and violence that occurred last weekend in Charlottesville, Va., and affirming their commitment to diversity on their own campuses.

A white supremacist rally in Charlottesville turned deadly last weekend when a car plowed into a crowd. One woman, who was there to oppose the rally, was killed.

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The community college presidents said they will ensure that their campuses remain safe for all students, faculty, and staff. The letter said the colleges are committed to “inclusive excellence and social justice.”

“We reject, in the strongest possible terms, hateful rhetoric, harmful actions, or attempts to diminish the values or identity of our community members, while remaining committed to the fundamental right of free speech,” the letter said.

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Massachusetts’ community colleges are sprinkled across the state from Springfield to Boston, where there are two: Bunker Hill Community College and Roxbury Community College.

According to data from the state, the community colleges are 14 percent African-American, 19 percent Latino, and 53 percent white. Roxbury and Bunker Hill are majority-minority campuses.

“We respect people from all nations, cultures, background, and experience and welcome them to join our community of scholars and learners, for therein lies the hope and the future strength of our nation and our world,” the letter said.

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It also comes two days before a controversial “free speech rally” planned for Saturday on the Boston Common. Many worry that event will attract the same type of neo-Nazis and white nationalists that went to Charlottesville.

“Our community colleges are democracy’s colleges,” the letter said. “In these times that test our resolve as leaders, we renew our pledge to our communities. You are all welcome and valued; your religion, race, ethnicity, language, citizenship, and gender are honored.”

Laura Krantz can be reached at laura.krantz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurakrantz.
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