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Once when we proudly honored public service and since…

From the Boston Daily Globe; Boston, Mass. March 8, 1893: p. 6.
It is claimed that the Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw & the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, a bronze relief sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens at the edge of the Boston Common) that was unveiled on May 31, 1897, was the first civic monument to pay homage to the heroism of African American soldiers. In fact, our 1893 Memorial Tablets included the names of both soldiers of African and European descent. These tablets were displayed four years before the tribute to the 54th Regiment in Boston.
Amherst photographer Lincoln Barnes took the photo above of the Town Hall in September 1942. The Rutland VT marble tablets came to be displayed outside in the white encased structure shown here.
Except for a period during World War II, the tablets were displayed inside Town Hall until the building was renovated in 1962 and then moved to the basement before being set in storage in 1997. In 2000, Dudley J. Bridges* began working to have them restored and displayed. To begin raising money, he needed the town to establish a site for them. The then Select Board in 2001 approved the possibility of the Gates lot at the east end of Sweetser Park with the understanding that restoring and displaying them would be paid for privately. Bridges began raising money. But he got sick and died in 2004 at 80.

Today our Memorial Tablets are in the Department of Public Works’ Ruxton Storage Facility. Some members of our Memorial Tablets and Juneteenth Planning Group were to have visited the facility to look at the condition of the tablets but Planning Dept. staff canceled the mid-August visit citing the dirty and unsafe nature of the storage site.

“I went over to Ruxton yesterday afternoon and found the tablets stored in their crates leaning against the back wall of a very dusty and dirty garage bay. The space is full of large machinery and scattered DPW equipment making the tablets very hard and unsafe to access given the amount of obstacles and debris.” 

Call (413) 259-3002 or email townmanager@amherstma.gov and request that the Memorial Tablets be moved from the Ruxton Storage Facility to the Bangs Community Center, so that work may begin to inspect, assess and plan for the prominent public display of these tablets. Once they are moved we can begin to organize teachers to prepare curricular materials, grant applications, etc. to let these tablets “live” in the public eye for the foreseeable future.

To offer support or for more information, contact Amilcar Shabazz, W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of Afro-American Studies, at amilcarshabazz@gmail.com

NOTES

*Obituary for Dudley J. Bridges

June 3, 2004
Contact: Inside UMass

Dudley James Bridges Sr., 80, of Amherst, retired director of Building Operations in the Lincoln Campus Center, died unexpectedly May 28 in Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

Born in Springfield, he moved to Amherst in 1948 after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II.

After working for General Electric in Springfield and the Springfield Armory, he came to UMass in 1973 as manager of Building Operations in the Lincoln Campus Center. In 1986, he was named director of Building Operations for Auxiliary Services, with responsibility for custodial services and maintenance for the Campus, dining commons and Conference Services. The following year, he was promoted to director of Building Services in the Campus Center. He retired in 1990.

He was a co-founder of the A Better Chance House in Amherst and a trustee of the Amherst Historical Society, where he initiated a program to display Civil War veteran memorial plaques. He helped establish a Black Historic District on Hazel Avenue in Amherst.

He was a member of American Legion Post 148 in Amherst and a board member of the UMass Retired Professional Staff Association.

His first wife, Doris (Roberts) Bridges, died earlier.

He leaves his wife, Dorothy L. (Morrison) Bridges; a son, Dudley James Bridges Jr., of Ayer; three daughters, Sharon Pariser, of Milton, Debora Bridges Henderson, of Amherst, and Lisa Rossetti, of Florence; two stepdaughters, Deborah Hawley and Carol Sheehy, both of Springfield; a brother, a sister, 12 grandchildren; a great-grandchild, and several nieces and nephews.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Town of Amherst West Cemetery Mural, or West Cemetery Improvements, Amherst Historical Commission, c/o Amherst Planning Dept., 4 Boltwood Ave., Amherst 01002, or to the Amherst Civil War Memorial Fund, Bank North N.A., 67 Amity St., Amherst 01002.

On Bill H.1789 in the 190th (Current) General Court of Massachusetts

With my partner, Demetria Shabazz, I have co-founded and worked to develop cultural and historical museums and research centers in cities as large as Houston, TX, and as rural as Hale County, Alabama. My work as an Africana Public Historian has found deep source material and practice here in Western Massachusetts since our arrival in 2007. It is part of my research, teaching and service duties at the University of Massachusetts that I engage in such work. Below I’d like to comment on the bill currently in the state legislature, H.1789. I hope it is generative of thought and actions consistent with the historic reparations of our people.

https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H1789

http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/10/rep_bud_williams_proposes_blac.html 

 

Toward a Racial Justice Institute at UMass Amherst

Governor disapproved of the following item, for message see House, No. 4505
The Legislature overrode the Governor’s action | 1599-7114 | $500,000
For a reserve for the costs associated with the UMass Center at Springfield; provided, that not less than $250,000 shall be provided for the establishment of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst Center for the Study of Racial Justice & Urban Affairs, in Springfield

Notes on Racial Justice

We envision a professorship of racial justice that could unite several disciplines, interdisciplinary professional fields of study, and allied interdisciplinary studies departments and programs. Race, in particular, has public health, legal, public policy, organizational, educational, economic, environmental, psychological, and heritage dimensions that are studied and taught at UMass, especially in community engaged ways. This work, however, largely remains disintegrated and is carried out in our academic silos. The University needs to follow best practices in higher education and begin to develop an integrated strategy. For many reasons UMass is uniquely situated to be a leader in a more integrated approach. As one of the earliest research universities to massively invest in creating a premier Africana studies department with the power to confer degrees and award tenure to a faculty that at one time had more than twenty full time tenure system professorships we have a great legacy in pioneering the systematic and engaged study of race and its attendant problems and power dynamics. What can we learn from that legacy that can be applied to today’s higher educational realities?

First, when Eurocentric, logocentric, managerial, and neoliberal agendas dominated the concerns and attention of other departments and the study and teaching of race on its own academic turf or academic ghetto, as it were, was generally regarded as a more or less harmless use/waste of resources to help lift up (or manage) the unfortunate dark student presence that affirmative action policies and autonomous struggles had begun to increase their numbers on the campus in dramatic ways in the late 1960s and 1970s. The UMass music department, for example, had little to no serious interest in jazz and other contributions of African Americans and dark humanity to the development of music theory and practice until Bezanson, with the help of Randolph Bromery, recruited Fred Tillis here in 1970.

Straight Talk on the Crisis of Police Violence

Izielen Agbon, my brother, comrade and fellow student of political economy in the University of Texas’ Economics Department, introduced me in the latter part of 1979, to a woman who would have a profound impact on my life. Dorothy Turner was the president of the Black Citizens Task Force in Austin, Texas, and she was organizing daily demonstrations in response to a crisis in the community that arose from two yt police officers murdering a black man named Gril Couch in cold blood. They were in plainclothes and got into it with the brother and put him in a chokehold whereby they strangled the life out of him. That is how I got down with the black community in East Austin in the fight to say #BlackLivesMatter
Spark4_1987

Sources

Demetria C. Howard-Watkins, “The Austin, Texas African-American Quality of Life Initiative as a Community of Inquiry: An Exploratory Study.” MPA thesis. Spring 2006.
https://digital.library.txstate.edu/bitstream/handle/10877/3479/fulltext.pdf?sequence=1

Jordan Smith, “Dorothy T. Goes Home Fiery, feisty queen of Austin civil rights activists is recognized, remembered.” The Austin Chronicle, April 22, 2005.
http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2005-04-22/267663/

Black Citizens Task Force Records: An Inventory to the Collection
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/aushc/00391/ahc-00391.html

Dorothy Charles Banks, “Velma Roberts: East Austin civil rights activist and all-around hell raiser.” Poet With An Opinion blog, October 27, 2012.
http://dcbanks.blogspot.com/2012/10/velma-carter-roberts-east-austin-civil.html

The struggle at Colony Park continues
http://www.thedailyphalanx.net/2016/04/dorothy-turner-august-1980-we-want.html

ACAC Historical Footage with clips of Ms. Turner (look at 4:07 minutes into video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ah_0W0MGf38

“After the Convention: Analysis & Commentary.” Liberation, Summer 1988.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yq8SkkbLS0A

Message from the Grassroots

Recreation Center named in honor of Roberts and Turner
https://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Parks/Recreation_Centers/turnerroberts_factsheet.pdf

Public art tribute http://www.publicartarchive.org/work/overtonturnerroberts-memorial

“BCTF Pays Tribute to Turner, Roberts.” The Villager, 2015.
http://www.theaustinvillager.com/current/page8_Feb27.pdf

On Leadership

The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory

Choosing the Right Leadership Style for the Right People

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_44.htm

The Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Theory was created by Dr Paul Hersey, a professor and author of “The Situational Leader,” and Ken Blanchard, author of the best selling “One-Minute Manager,” among others.

The theory states that instead of using just one style, successful leaders should change their leadership styles based on the maturity of the people they’re leading and the details of the task. Using this theory, leaders should be able to place more or less emphasis on the task, and more or less emphasis on the relationships with the people they’re leading, depending on what’s needed to get the job done successfully.

“Leading from any Chair”

A leader who can step back and encourage team members to put forward ideas in their areas of expertise will generally have a much more engaged, productive team.   One of my favourite books calls this “Leading from any Chair”.  The book is “The Art of Possibility”  by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander.  http://www.benjaminzander.com/book/   Benjamin describes how much better an orchestra could perform when the conductor allowed the orchestra members to suggest better ways to play the music and even to conduct sometimes.   Orchestras are traditionally very heirarchical and structured organizations.

The Secret: What Great Leaders Know — And Do

In the now classic business fable, The Secret, Debbie, a struggling leader finds herself about to lose her job due to poor performance. In a desperate attempt to save her career, she enrolls in a new mentoring program offered by her company. Much to her surprise, Debbie finds her mentor is the president of the company (Jeff Brown). Debbie decides that all she needs is the answer to one question, ‘What is the secret of great leaders?’ Over the next 18 months Jeff explains to Debbie that the secret is rooted in an attitude. He tells her that she must be willing to become a serving leader rather than a self-serving leader. The secret is that all great leaders Serve. The story unfolds as Debbie learns and applies each of these imperatives with her team. As a result, Debbie’s team goes from worst to first. They become the highest performing team within the company. In the end, Debbie understood that all the changes and improvements were the result of the choices she made as a leader. She realized that to Serve is a choice. Debbie decided once and for all, she would no longer be a self-serving leader, she would be a serving leader!

Servant Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness

By Robert K. Greenleaf

Servant leadership is both a leadership philosophy and set of leadership practices. Traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid.” By comparison, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_leadership