Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center to Open at Rutgers University-Newark, A First in the Nation

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By the Office of Communications at Rutgers University-Newark

(NEWARK, NJ, AUG. 16, 2017) – The Association of American Colleges and Universities selected Rutgers University-Newark to serve as one of the first Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers in America with nine additional TRHT campus centers to open nationwide. 

Initiated in 2016 by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, TRHT is a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable changethat addresses the historic and contemporary effects of racism. At this unique historic moment in the City of Newark and in the nation, the development and implementation of the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Center at Rutgers-Newark will leverage energies already being dedicated across sectors of the community to focus vitally needed attention on  ealing.  Building on the momentum of community-university efforts aimed at re-charting the future of Newark, TRHT at Rutgers-Newark will connect a broad array of partners inside and outside the university all positioned to prepare the next generation of strategic leaders and critical thinkers to both imagine and work toward racial healing.

“As we all bear witness to the searing realities of our long history of racialized violence and the bigotry and hatred that lies always just barely under the surface, across our divided and divisive societal landscape, we must urgently do the hard but critical work of learning about each other, reaching across untouchable boundaries, honing a lost sense of interdependence, and acknowledging that we are all in this together.  We have the opportunity to build a better whole, full of better selves, together, and that is what we hope to do through the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center at Rutgers University-Newark in deep and expansive partnership with our community, replete with generations of resilient strivers who have felt how slowly the long arm of history bends toward justice in the 350-year-old city of Newark,” says Rutgers University–Newark  Chancellor Nancy Cantor.

The TRHT campus center at Rutgers-Newark will be a dedicated sphere for collaborative Newark community-university work directly aimed at jettisoning the belief in racial hierarchy, to advance a narrative that:

  1. eschews the enduring mainstream media characterization of the City of Newark; reframe the 1967 “rebellion,” rooted in historically documented grievances, protest, and resistance;
  2. progresses university-community relations toward transformation, by articulating Rutgers University-Newark’s anchor responsibility as an institution “of” rather than merely “in” Newark;
  3. counteracts the stigma and corrosive impact of mass incarceration, asserting the rights and human potential of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals;
  4. sheds light on shared experiences of displacement and traumatic stress, and shared interests in cultivating healthy communities and well-being among Newark residents who are native-born descendants of the Great Migration, and those who are more recent, foreign-born, immigrants; and
  5. eclipses pejorative, stereotyping, references to Newark as crime-ridden with evidence of the City’s rich arts and culture heritage and burgeoning creative arts economy, and the extraordinary degree of commitment and collaboration amongst leaders from the City’s political, corporate, and nonprofit sectors, focused squarely on promoting widespread well-being on behalf of all Newarkers.

TRHT at Rutgers-Newark will focus on developing and delivering programming focused on healing and transformation that engages students, faculty, staff, and academic leadership; Newark residents, especially youth; educational and anchor partners; and media. The center will facilitate five main sets of activities: Story Circles; Intergroup Dialogues; Public Art; Public Access Communication; and Youth Leadership Development.  The center will also provide Honors Living-Learning Community scholars and student government representatives the opportunity to work side by side with the center’s leadership team to deliver programming and engage student groups.

“We see the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation campus center as a way to deepen our relationships with Newark’s residential communities. It is an opportunity to expand our current strategic priorities which focus on democratizing knowledge through publicly engaged scholarship and civic engagement. TRHT is aligned with Rutgers-Newark strategic priority to replace the current architecture of segregation and inequality pervasive in higher education architecture with a pathway for inclusion and equitable prosperity,” says Assistant Dean Sharon Stroye, School of Public Affairs and Administration.

The center will be co-directed by the appointed leadership of three Rutgers-Newark entities: Assistant Dean Stroye; Yoleidy Rosario, Director of the LGBTQ and Intercultural Resource Center; and Junius Williams, Director of the Abbott Leadership Institute. The center’s core leadership will be supported by senior Rutgers-Newark faculty and administrators:  Timothy K. Eatman, Dean of the Honors Living-Learning Community and Associate Professor of Urban Education in the College of Arts & Sciences; Diane Hill, Assistant Chancellor at Rutgers University-Newark, Office of University-Community Partnerships; Bonita Veysey, Vice Chancellor for Planning and Implementation, Inaugural Director of the P3 Collaboratory for Pedagogy, Professional Development and Publicly- Engaged Scholarship, and a Professor in the School of Criminal Justice.

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