From the Chief Diversity Officer

Changing Names and Narratives

October 15, 2021

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Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

Sherri CharlestonLast week, President Biden issued a formal proclamation declaring the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, following a broader movement in more than 100 cities and a dozen states across the country led by Native and Indigenous Activists. Since time immemorial, Native and Indigenous peoples have occupied, cultivated, and safeguarded what is now the United States. It is important that we remember that Harvard University is itself located on the traditional and ancestral land of Native and Indigenous peoples. I encourage everyone to engage with the Harvard University Native American Program to learn more.

As author and poet Rex Lee Jim, whose work aims to revitalize the Diné language, says, “Storytelling is a collective action—a collective way of talking about values, about principals and ways of doing things together.” This month, let us take account of the stories we tell, the ways we remember, and the power of those stories to guide our actions.
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Stepping Into a New Normal

September 15, 2021

Dear Members of the Harvard Community:

Sherri CharlestonIn her poem “Late October,” author and civil rights activist Maya Angelou writes, “…we begin to stop, in order to begin again.” Autumn, with the busy beginnings of school and the wistful end of summer, calls us to take pause.
For me, this September in particular is a time for reflection and for reverence. One year ago, I began work at Harvard amid a pandemic and presidential election. Over the months, I have met many members of our community, made new friendships, and worked together—with all of you—to build a more equitable campus environment. Even with all we must be grateful for, many of us have also experienced loss. We may mourn the loss of friends or loved ones, or loss of our old routines and ways of interacting with the world. I mourn the loss of all of the above.

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Remembering, Reflecting, Responding

April 19, 2021

Dear Members of the Harvard Community:

As the world turns its attention towards Minneapolis, I thought I would tell you just one story from a few years back, just one of many I could tell. I was stopped on my way home from a Bikram yoga class after work. The squad car followed me for several miles, my elevated heartrate turning to palpitations when seven police cars surrounded my vehicle. Long arm rifles drawn, readied, and aimed at my person from crouched positions behind open car doors, the lead officer ordering me out of my vehicle.... Read more about Remembering, Reflecting, Responding

Making Democracy Work

March 19, 2021

Message from CDIO Sherri Ann Charleston

In January, I wrote to you and reflected on both the importance of democracy and the demands of the current moment relative to racial justice. Now, I invite you to engage with a series of collaborations for our...

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In Community: Spaces for Asians, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Allies

March 18, 2021

Message from CDIO Sherri Ann Charleston

Just last week, I wrote to you about the rise nationally in Anti-Asian racism, sharing resources for Harvard members and allies. It is abhorrent to now be faced with yet another act of violence—the murder in Atlanta of eight people, six of whom were Asian women. There is much we do not know, but it is clear that there are many concerning layers to this case, including the violence...

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Happening Around Harvard

March 8, 2021

As many of you may know, we are again facing an increase in the number of incidents of targeted Anti-Asian racism happening across the globe. As such, I want to highlight resources for members of our community who are Asian, Asian American, and allies, and encourage anyone in need to take note of the following campus resources: 

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Black History Month

February 1, 2021

In February of 1926, Harvard Alumnus, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the second African American to earn a doctorate at Harvard, launched what was then known as Negro History week. Since the time Dr. Woodson, with the help of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week, the weekly event has grown into a month-long observance of the history of African Americans and their 400+ year quest for full citizenship.... Read more about Black History Month

In the name of justice and humanity, Harvard remembers the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 18, 2021

Message from CDIO Sherri Ann Charleston

Many moons ago when I was still an undergraduate, I found myself sitting in Sunday service the day before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at Harlem’s historic Canaan Baptist Church. The pastor, Civil Rights activist Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, a longtime friend and co-laborer with Dr. King, relayed in intimate detail how Dr. King spent his last birthday—working. He asked us one simple question: If Dr. King worked on his birthday, what will you do? Though Dr. Walker has since passed on and has taken his rest, I have never forgotten his admonition...

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Charleston Headshot

Welcome message from Dr. Sherri Charleston

September 15, 2020

Dear Members of the Harvard Community:

On September 1, 2020, I began my tenure as the Inaugural Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, and I can unequivocally say that I am equally thrilled and honored to serve this historic institution at this transformational moment in the history of our university and nation.

As many of you know, in March of 2018, the Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging, released its final report,...

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