Updated: May 1, 2019
By Yusuf Ali, Vital Village Network
March 1, 2019
The original version of this post by was published in Vital Village's Blog and can be accessed here.
“Give light and people will find the way.” – Ella Baker
Every year Black History Month presents us with a 28 day window of opportunities to further emphasize and engage in conversations about diversity, collaboration, and inclusion. Beyond a single month, those values have moved from a concept to an expectation through everyday practices and culture of Vital Village. Black History Month also provides us with an opportunity to take stock of the condition and progress of Black people and other minority populations. Through mindfulness and collaboration we can celebrate the achievements and contributions of so many. Diversity without collaboration and inclusive decision making is problematic and doesn’t provide the same impact as distributing power and encouraging input of all members involved.
At Vital Village, we’ve made the commitment to sustain a culture that fosters an inclusive and collaborative environment, which enables our partners, community members, and staff to do their best work and serve the diverse needs of children and families. For the month of February we’ve focused and reflected on Black Educators and Black History. The kick off for Black History Month was our Network Connection Meeting: School Start, Career Smart! co-hosted by ABCD Youth Services and Boston School Finder. For grounding, Dr. Renee Boynton-Jarrett shared words about Black Educators and Black History Month, followed by a beautiful video performance of Ella’s Song by Sweet Honey in the Rock. Haji Shearer, Program Director at Boston Basics and longtime Network member, shared timeless and relevant words from poems by Dudley Randall and Nikki Giovanni. Both readings connected education and family structure together, and also the relevance of why our work is important year-round. So much enthusiasm abounds for continued engagement and conversations on this subject matter. If the reaction of the Villagers in the meeting was a gauge of what is to come in 2019 then we’re heading in a significant direction.
One of the ways we will continue our commitment is by finding ways to support, connect, and collaborate with families and partners. Please contact us at Yusuf.Ali@bmc.org for opportunities to collaborate in future Network Connection Meetings, and please make sure to RSVP for our our March Network Connection Meetingon Monday, March 18th from 5:30-8pm at the Boston Medical Center campus. The theme of our meeting is Recruitment and Retention: Parent Involvement at Every Step and will be co-hosted with Families First, Dress for Success Boston, and the East Boston Social Center.