Visit this page for regular updates, news, and statements from Harvard's Office for Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging

A Day of Reflection

January 18, 2021

Message from President Larry Bacow

Today, the United States of America commemorates the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His was a life devoted to the cause of freedom, and we join people across the country—and around the world—in acknowledging and celebrating his extraordinary contributions to humanity.
It feels as if an age has passed since the new year began, and all of us are in dire need of a day of reflection. As I sought words of wisdom to guide my thinking during these fraught times, I turned to Dr. King’s Nobel Peace Prize lecture. It is striking to read in the context of what is happening in our country right now—a searing reminder of how slowly our society has advanced and how quickly it can recede.
Yet I imagine that Dr. King would still place his faith in the ability of individuals and communities to rise in defense of democracy, equality, and justice. He might remind us that words can inspire as well as incite, and that there lies within each of us great potential to resist that which we abhor and to champion that which we love. In the days to come, may we all act with his hope for us in mind.
I encourage you to take time to read about some of the ways in which the University is connected to Dr. King and to his enduring message of nonviolence. The Office for Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging has also put together a calendar of events to highlight opportunities to contemplate his life and the movement—as urgent now as it has ever been.  

All the best,
Lawrence S. Bacow
Harvard University

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 and relay it to you today with as much of his spirit as I can muster: How will you spend this day?

I would encourage everyone to explore the many events, including the numerous opportunities to serve and learn (virtually), happening throughout the Harvard and Cambridge communities. Even if you choose to spend time in reflection, or in contemplative action, time is of the essence. Perhaps those of us less familiar with Dr. King’s scholarship would find value in exploring his works. You may also be interested in learning of the numerous connections between King and Harvard featured on Harvard.edu.

The events of 2020 and the most recent events of January 6, 2021, bear witness that much work remains in the quest for justice. The year 2020 and thus far 2021 have brought with them a similar air of uncertainty and turmoil. Yet we are not without comfort in that we have an opportunity to define for ourselves what the path forward will be. As Dr. King stated “Where do we go from here: Community or Chaos”. I believe what lies ahead for us is community, justice, and humanity. I choose community. I chose justice. Let us all strive to serve humanity.

In community,
Sherri Ann Charleston
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
Harvard University

Event Highlight│2020 HILT Conference: A Conversation on Inclusive Excellence

October 16, 2020


The ninth annual HILT Conference brought together a diverse, engaged, and engaging set of speakers and panelists to share their successes and challenges in building equitable learning opportunities, facilitating charged or difficult class discussions, and supporting students as they navigate rapidly shifting circumstances.

In line with the University’s focus on achieving sustainable inclusive excellence, this year’s conference was the cornerstone of ongoing HILT events for faculty and academic professional staff on diversity, inclusion, belonging, and more. HILT will continue these important conversations through our regular programming, including small faculty gatherings (virtual colleague conversations), speaker series events, and themed Affinity Group Events. These events provide multiple modalities for the Harvard community to deepen our commitment to inclusive teaching strategies and implementation models.


Event Highlight│Queering Campus: Lessons for Supporting LGBTQ Communities in Higher Education

November 12, 2020


This event featured directors of LGBTQ centers from different institutions of higher education. They spoke about how they initiated their programs, what they have found to be successful, and what has proven challenging in the process. This event discussed how institutions can better support LGBTQ communities and identify best practices for building inclusive programing in higher education.


  • Jorge Castillo, Director, LGBT Resource Center, Syracuse University (he/him)
  • Lauryn McNair, Assistant Director of Intercultural Engagement for LBGTQ+ Services, M.I.T. (she/they).
  • Maria Trumpler, Director, Office LGBTQ Resources; Senior Lecturer in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Yale University (she/her).


  • Susan Marine, Associate Professor and Program Director, School of Education and Social Policy, Merrimack College (she/her).

HGSE Equity & Inclusion Workshops during J-term

January 21, 2021


The following workshops are offered by the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging and facilitated by HGSE Equity and Inclusion Fellows. 

Title: Caste 
Date(s): January 21, 2021  
Time(s): 9-10:30am (EST) 
Location: Zoom (link to be shared with students who sign up)
Instructor(s): Anri Wheeler & Sara Pervaiz Amjad 
Description: For the first time in US history, caste is at the core of a discrimination lawsuit (click here to sign up for your free account with the Washington Post through the Harvard Library). At the same time, Isabel Wilkerson’s new book examines the unspoken caste system that has shaped America. This 90-minute workshop will include guest speakers and use caste as an entry point to expanding conversations around DEI--that are so often limited to a US context--to one that is more global in its exploration of oppression and solidarity as we forge ahead in the fight for liberation. 

Sign up or cancel previous sign up 


Title: Out and About: Living, Learning and Working as Your Full and Authentic Self 
Date(s): January 21, 2021 
Time(s): 11:30am-1pm (EST) 
Location: Zoom (link to be shared with students who sign up)
Instructor(s): Mich Harvey 
Description: Institutional organizations often create cultures that discourage individuals from bringing their full selves into the space. This 90-minute workshop will explore the intersection of identity and what it means to be your authentic self at school, work, or in social spaces.  

Sign up or cancel previous sign up 


Title: “But We’re All the Same…” 
January 21, 2021 
Time(s): 2-3:30pm (EST) 
Location: Zoom (link to be shared with students who sign up)
Instructor(s): Samantha Fletcher and Peter Musante 
Description: From the racially motivated killings and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests in this country and abroad to the long, drawn-out election, the United States has been the focal point of the world as many nations turned their eyes to the U.S. -- and racism has been at the forefront. And while racism has often historically been considered through the lens of those who identify as BIPOC, language in the U.S. of "whiteness" and "white supremacy culture" are becoming increasingly common. But what is whiteness? What role do you play in it? What does it mean to be white? And are we all the same, really?

 In this interactive workshop, Samantha Fletcher, who identifies as a Black woman, and Peter Musante, who identifies as a white man, will explore race in America, the notion that we are all the same, the social construct of whiteness, and ways to move forward. 

Sign up or cancel previous sign up 


Title: DIB: Navigating the Discomfort of a ‘Global’ Mindset 

Date(s): January 22, 2021 
Time(s): 9-10:30am (EST) 
Location: Zoom (link to be shared with students who sign up)
Instructor(s): Sara Pervaiz Amjad 
Description:  There is no single globally accepted definition of “diversity” and much of the terminology commonly used within US-based social justice and leadership frameworks often cannot be translated into languages other than English. Depending on the region of the world you operate in, diversity and inclusion may connote issues of race, ethnicity, nationality, class, language, age, gender, sexual orientation, income level, caste, physical ability, religion, or learning style — or none of the above. This 90-minute workshop will grapple with the complexity of using US-centric theory and the underlying imperialist lens of doing intercultural work outside of the US. Participants will discuss how to make cross-cultural conversations more equitably ‘global,’ acknowledging the limitations of language and cultural lenses when working towards a more ‘global’ way of thinking about diversity, inclusion, and intercultural communication.   

Sign up or cancel previous sign up 


Title: A Conversation on Gender 
Date(s): January 22, 2021 
Time(s): 11:30am - 1pm (EST) 
Location: Zoom (link to be shared with students who sign up)
Instructor(s): Catherine Meyer-Meckler and Vishal Jain 
Description: In this 90-minute conversation we’ll discuss topics around gender identities, expressions, and expectations. This is meant to be a reflective space and will be facilitated through large group and small group discussions. More details will be posted prior to the session. We hope you join the conversation! 

Sign up or cancel previous sign up 

Reaffirming Our Commitments - A message from University Leadership

October 30, 2020


To the Harvard University Community,

In the United States and around the world, this year has brought immense challenges and heartache—with a pandemic causing disruption and deaths; horrifying examples of deeply rooted racism; violent conflicts between and within nations; threats to freedom; inequalities of economic opportunity and outcomes; alarming signs of climate change; growing worries about the health of democracies in the face of heightened political polarization; and more.

For many people, the U.S. election has brought the trials and tragedies of this year into even sharper focus. All of us who have an opportunity to vote in a well-functioning democracy can use that opportunity to help address the problems we see in the world. As this U.S. election period draws toward its close, we write to restate our encouragement to all eligible members of the Harvard community—regardless of political affiliation or ideology—to vote next week.

We write, too, to reaffirm the values that bind us together as a community.

We are committed to a just Harvard and a just world where all people’s rights and dignity are respected and honored. No one should be harmed or denied an equal opportunity to thrive because of their race, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or religion. Our commitment reflects the moral responsibility that everyone owes to one another and recognizes that true excellence and human flourishing are possible only by fully including people of all backgrounds and lived experiences.

We are committed to free and honest inquiry in the unfettered pursuit of truth. Such inquiry, which is the fundamental basis for learning and action at Harvard and in the broader society, requires reasoned dialogue and a respect for knowledge, evidence, and expertise. We encourage everyone to develop their views with care and humility and to listen generously to those with different perspectives, so that ideas can be tested and differences can be a source of progress.

We are committed to practices and institutions that enhance the common good by enabling people to act effectively together and leaders to hear and respond to public needs. The success of democracy in the United States depends on the right to vote, a free and independent press, checks and balances, the peaceful transfer of power, and the rule of law with equal justice for all. We think it vital to support and adhere scrupulously to those norms, especially in times of division and stress.

The teaching, research, and outreach of Harvard—and other universities—serve the societies we belong to. We are grateful to be part of the Harvard community and to be able to work together with all of you to advance these crucial commitments.


Lawrence S. Bacow
President, Harvard University

Tomiko Brown-Nagin
Dean, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

George Q. Daley
Dean, Harvard Medical School

Emma Dench
Dean, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Francis J. Doyle III
Dean, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Douglas Elmendorf
Dean, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Alan M. Garber
Provost, Harvard University

Claudine Gay
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences

William V. Giannobile
Dean, Harvard School of Dental Medicine

David N. Hempton
Dean, Harvard Divinity School

Rakesh Khurana
Dean, Harvard College

Bridget Terry Long
Dean, Harvard Graduate School of Education

John F. Manning
Dean, Harvard Law School

Nitin Nohria
Dean, Harvard Business School

Sarah M. Whiting
Dean, Graduate School of Design

Michelle A. Williams
Dean, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health


Event Highlight: The Impact of the Election

November 10, 2020


This impact-oriented episode of HGSE’s Education Now series featured a panel of thought leaders from across Harvard to share their perspectives. 
• Martin West (Host), Bloomberg Professor of Education, HGSE; Deputy Director, Program on Education Policy and Governance, Harvard Kennedy School 
• Joseph Allen, Associate Professor of Exposure Assessment Science and Director, Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 
• Desmond Ang, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School 
• Sherri Charleston, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Harvard University 
• Meira Levinson, Professor of Education, HGSE

For more information on the event, please see the event summary article:


Read The Article


Celebrating Indigenous communities and cultures

October 12, 2020

Today we celebrate the resilience of the Indigenous communities and cultures across America and we acknowledge the rich contributions of Native American and Indigenous people to this university. As Indigenous peoples continue to fight for self-determination, it is a reminder that the struggle for a more inclusive and equitable society remains. Harvard University is situated on the traditional and ancestral territory of the Massachusett people. And as Harvard members, we will continue to work to create a thriving community for Native American and Indigenous people—and their allies and supporters—on campus. To learn more about the history of Native and Indigenous people at Harvard, please visit the Harvard University Native American Program.

In honor of Indigenous People's Day, we would like to share four events happening today:

And all day, the Wampanoag Voices: Beyond 1620 virtual exhibit will feature contemporary Wampanoag speakers who share memories, thoughts, and reflections about museum collection items made by their ancestors and relatives, and how Wampanoag life and culture continues to flourish today. 


Stop AAPI Hate Campaign

October 7, 2020

In the summer of 2020, the Stop AAPI Hate Youth Campaign interviewed 990 AAPI young adults across the United States about their experiences and feelings related to racism during the COVID-19 pandemic. The students believe the conditions of the pandemic and the administration's xenophobic rhetoric have "fueled a new wave of anti-Asian discrimination." The Stop AAPI Hate Youth Campaign 2020 was made possible with funding from the Jeremy Lin Foundation.

Key Recommendations of the report:

  1. Implement Ethnic Studies throughout secondary school curricula
  2. Provide anti-bullying training for teachers and administrators.
  3. Train students and adults in restorative justice practices, which can begin to replace zero tolerance approaches that have proven ineffective.
  4. For victims of online harassment, provide accessible and anonymous reporting sites (similar to that of Stop AAPI Hate) on social media platforms.
  5. Support AAPI student affinity groups and their school-safety and anti-racism campaigns


View the full report here



Event: Helping Children Cope with Racial Trauma

September 30, 2020

3:00pm | During this conversation, we will address this critical question and identify concrete ways that educators and school leaders of all races can guide students through this traumatic time. Tracie Jones, HGSE’s Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, will be joined by James Huguley, Ed.M.’04, Ed.D.’13, who is the Interim Director at University of Pittsburgh’s Center on Race and Social Problems; and Sarah Vinson, a physician who specializes in adult, child & adolescent, and forensic psychiatry. She is also an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Morehouse School of Medicine. | Register for Helping Children Cope with Racial Trauma hgse.me/ednow930

Event Flier: Helping Children Cope with Racial Trauma

Latinx Heritage Month - September 15 – October 15, 2020

September 25, 2020

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month at Harvard, also called Latinx Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15, 2020. This month recognizes the history and contributions of Americans with ancestors from across the Caribbeans, Central and South America, Mexico, and Spain. Latinx Heritage Month began in 1968 as a week of cultural and historical recognition of Latinx Americans and expanded to 30-days in 1988. The start of the month commemorates six Latin American countries’ Independence Day anniversary, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua (Sep 15), Mexico (Sep 16) and Chile (Sep 18).


View list of Latinx Heritage Month events


Tonight 5pm | Community Conversation on Breonna Taylor

September 24, 2020

Following the verdict of the two officers related to the killing of Breonna Taylor, we have heard from staff, faculty, post-docs, and students regarding the upswell of pain and stress as well as how these events continue to inflict violence against Black communities. In response, our team is sharing the resources below, as well as an opportunity happening today that is open to all members of the Harvard Community and hosted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

At 5pm EST (Thurs., Sept. 24), Dr. Christina Villarreal, Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) faculty member and director of the Teacher Education Program, and Dr. Kaia Stern, HGSE faculty member teaching the course “Say Her Name” this fall semester, will be hosting a space, guided by principles of healing-centered engagement, for members of the community to come together in the wake of unfolding events in Kentucky.

Password: 085199
Resources for Support:
A range of additional resources are available to support our community across campus, a listing and additional information can found at: https://dib.harvard.edu/resources
Counseling and Mental Health Services; Smith Campus Center https://huhs.harvard.edu/services/counseling-and-mental-health ; 617-495-5711
Harvard Chaplains; The Memorial Church, Harvard Yard; 617-495-5529;


9.24 community conversation photo

Welcome message from Dr. Sherri Charleston

September 15, 2020
Charleston Headshot

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, Pursuing Excellence on a Foundation of Inclusion. In that document, the Task Force called for coordinated efforts and deliberate attention towards the goals of yielding increased diversity, inclusion, and belonging for all members of the Harvard community.

In my first 30 days, I have had dozens of meetings, phone calls, and email exchanges with hundreds of students, faculty, alumni, and staff who are as committed to this great institution as they are to the work of ensuring a diverse and inclusive Harvard where everyone can thrive. There are many more of you whom I am eager to meet. If you are interested, please join my Friday morning office hours open to all Harvard community members by signing up to speak with me. In October, the Office for Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging will launch a series of community engagement opportunities, so stay tuned.

I have been thrilled to see the groundswell of work that already exists and look forward to synthesizing and integrating the University’s many effective diversity and inclusion efforts into a visible, innovative strategy for enhancing diversity, equity, access, inclusion, and belonging. I fundamentally believe that many of the challenges that we face in higher education relative to this topic have answers rooted in applied research. We must work together in the field to find them.

As I work to learn Harvard, I have and will continue to hear from many voices during this process. Both the contributions of groups and individuals have been essential in helping guide efforts across our Schools and Units that have yielded creative and successful outcomes in diversity, inclusion, and belonging efforts thus far.

We will work as a community, purposefully moving over the course of the next year towards greater equity, diversity, and inclusion. And we will chart a pathway forward—together—building off of the excellent work of the Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging. Working collectively in this process, we are capable of remarkable accomplishments.

Your insights, suggestions and feedback will be exceptionally valuable as we move forward together, and I hope you will seek me out over the course of this year. I also encourage each of you to sign up to receive updates from the Office for Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging.

With this in mind, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the new academic year. And, for those who are new to our community, welcome to Harvard.

In community,

Sherri Ann Charleston
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

Racism in America: A Reader

August 18, 2020

Two months ago, as Sharmila Sen and her colleagues at Harvard University Press (HUP), all working from home, followed the news of demonstrations spreading around the country—and around the globe—to protest racism and police brutality, she says they decided they needed to do more than simply issue a statement of solidarity. “We wanted to contribute actively in some way,” says Sen, HUP’s editorial director. “And I happen to be a book-maker, so we made a book.”

The book focuses primarily on anti-black racism, but also includes voices and stories from other racial perspectives: South Asian, Chinese American, Mexican American, Native American. And although it is available only in digital format, Sen notes, it is designed visually to look like a printed book, with the same attention to art and typography and page layout.

Learn more


Download the ebook


Black America and COVID-19 Library Guide

August 10, 2020

Black American Experiences during the Covid-19 Pandemic

The Black America and COVID-19 Library Guide documents the experience of COVID-19 across Black communities in America. Its intention is to create a collective conversation of material for teaching and learning about the contemporary effects of COVID-19 among Black communities as it is tied to the historical legacy of race in America. This guide is designed to assist students, faculty, staff, and researchers in exploring this topic from multiple social and cultural perspectives as a place to begin inquiry. This guide is open access and available to the public.


Learn more

Black America & COVID19 Sponsor Logo image

Charleston named chief diversity and inclusion officer

August 3, 2020
Sherri Charleston

Sherri Ann Charleston, one of the nation’s leading experts in diversity and higher education, has been named Harvard’s chief diversity and inclusion officer (CDIO). A historian trained in U.S. history with a focus on race, women, gender, citizenship, and the law, and an attorney with a specialization in constitutional and employment law. 

“My approach to the work is very much grounded in my academic interests in history and the law, and in thinking about how we’ve evolved, and how we haven’t evolved, around questions of race and gender, and it comes from a deep passion toward effecting sustainable organizational change, and creating structures that outlast all of us, so that we can actually make progress. I fundamentally believe that many of the challenges that we face in higher education relative to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging have answers rooted in applied research. We must work together in the field to find them.”


Learn more about Dr Charleston




A Statement on the passing of Congressman John Lewis - February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020

July 19, 2020
John Silvanus Wilson, Jr. - Senior Advisor and Strategist to the President - Harvard University

I encountered John Lewis many times in my lifetime, dating back to when I was a student at Morehouse College in 1979. Today, I join millions in remembering and revering him as an American hero and a civil rights icon. But beyond that, I will forever appreciate him most for the very natural way in which he consistently, often wordlessly, called us all to be our better selves, individually and collectively.

He and I got together during the early days of my service as the President of Morehouse College. I was thrilled to have an opportunity to share with him my DuBoisian, “world of our dreams” vision, designed to help us realize capital and character preeminence in our lifetime at the College. He absolutely loved it, and he let me know it reminded him of the vision of another dreamer he admired. At the end of the visit, as I shook his hand, he deepened his voice to a sermonic, authoritative tone, and said, “Mister President!” Thereafter, as if to charge and energize my administration to fulfill that important vision, for the last seven years, each and every time I saw him, whether at the White House, at Morehouse, or in an airport, he began with a hearty, “Mr. President!”

Shortly after leaving Morehouse, I was onstage as a Harvard Overseer at the Harvard Commencement in 2018. He saw me, smiled warmly, and still greeted me with that same encouraging expression. I explained that I was now at Harvard trying to realize the world of our dreams from a different angle, and with an approach that our University leadership has since embraced as, “sustainable inclusive excellence.” Mr. Lewis nodded his approval. Minutes later, he delivered a powerful commencement address, in which he applauded our more inclusive vision, and urged the thousands gathered to keep getting into “good trouble, necessary trouble!” Yet again, he called us to be our best selves, because a better world was at stake…a world of our dreams!

Thank you for elevating us all! Rest in power, Congressman Lewis!

Congressman John Lewis and John Wilson

Ten projects to help advance a culture of belonging

July 1, 2020

It is with great enthusiasm that ODIB announces the 2020-21 grant recipients of the Harvard Culture Lab Innovation Fund (HCLIF). After receiving 98 applications from Harvard Community members last fall, HCLIF held two rigorous rounds of judging by review committees that included students, staff, and faculty. We are proud to present the 10 grant recipients that put forth exceptional solutions to advance diversity and a culture of belonging on our campus.

During these difficult times our hope is that these projects will contribute to creating a brighter future. These innovative solutions address the needs of some of our most vulnerable community members including undocumented students, students with disabilities, LGBTQ community members, first generation/low-income students, racial minorities, and marginalized genders.

Each project had a strong alignment with the goals from the report of the Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging and adds recognizable value to our pursuit of sustainable inclusive excellence. Visit the CLIF grant recipient page to view all of the recipients and watch their video pitches.

Read more in The Crimson      Read more in the Gazette      Read more in the Gazette


Learn about Juneteenth

June 19, 2020

Long celebrated as an Independence Day in the African American community, Juneteenth marks the day—155 years ago this year—that enslaved African American people in Texas were told of their freedom from bondage. It offers a moment to acknowledge and celebrate the promise of a new beginning, and I cannot imagine a better year for Harvard to begin recognizing its significance. These are extraordinary times distinguished by extraordinary displays of passion and resolve. We are everywhere reminded of the possibility of something different—something better—for our communities, our states, and our nation, as well as the deep reflection and hard work getting there will require of all of us.

-Excerpt from President Lawrence Bacow's message

Full Message


Of all Emancipation Day observances, Juneteenth falls closest to the summer solstice (this Friday, June 21), the longest day of the year, when the sun, at its zenith, defies the darkness in every state, including those once shadowed by slavery. By choosing to celebrate the last place in the South that freedom touched — reflecting the mystical glow of history and lore, memory and myth, as Ralph Ellison evoked in his posthumous novel, Juneteenth — we remember the shining promise of emancipation, along with the bloody path America took by delaying it and deferring fulfillment of those simple, unanticipating words in Gen. Granger’s original order No. 3: that “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.”  

-Excerpt from Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. detailing the history of Juneteenth in the PBS series "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross."

What is Juneteenth



Combating Anti-black Racism

June 18, 2020

Harvard University has never been entirely insulated from the dynamism of life beyond its gates. If that was not crystal clear before now, it has certainly been clarified and amplified by the profound impact of both an unexpected virus and a set of unjust murders.

We share in the anger and pain reverberating across the nation in the wake of the recent instances of police brutality, white supremacist violence, and the manner in which COVID-19 is devastating black and brown communities at disproportionate rates. It is deeply saddening to hear about the untimely and preventable deaths of George Floyd (Minnesota), Breonna Taylor (Kentucky), and Ahmaud Arbery (Georgia). Furthermore, the epidemic of violence involving those who are black and transgender continues to claim lives, among them Nina Pop (Missouri) and Tony McDade (Florida). We also witnessed the weaponization of whiteness that could have led one of our graduates, Christian Cooper (New York), to share a similar fate as those aforementioned. Days ago, another shocking video surfaced capturing the final moments of Rayshard Brooks (Atlanta). The 27-year-old’s death has spurred a fresh wave of anguish and protests.

These incidents are not isolated, nor are they new phenomena. Not only are they common features of black life in America, but they are probably very present in the hearts and minds of our now dispersed Harvard community. And they will likely be top of mind when we all return to campus.

We have a responsibility to act with urgency. We must reckon with the structural inequality and pervasive prejudice that has led us here and work towards a future where these disparities no longer exist. Everyone has a role to play. Whether it is through civic engagement, engaging in personal learning, leveraging our privilege, positions and platforms, or challenging our friends, colleagues, and institutions.

The following guide is not an exhaustive list of resources and is being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. If you require training or consultations, you may find relevant services on the DIB Action Portal or Resources page. If you use any of these resources, we’d like to hear from you. Please click our Response Survey to share how you used the resources and include any reflections. We will share your feedback and testimonials on our website. You can choose to be anonymous. Please email dib@harvard.edu with any questions.

View the anti-racist resource guide


The Choice Is Ours

June 1, 2020

Statement from Dr John Silvanus Wilson, Jr.

Dealing with the stress and angst of the Covid-19 pandemic was hard enough, especially given its disparate impact on minority populations and the increased hate against Asian-Americans. Yet, those difficulties were worsened by the shocking circumstances surrounding the deaths of
Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Nina Pop (a victim of the increasing violence against transgender black women). And then we all spent the past week being literally stunned with sadness, pain and anger stemming from the graphic and widely-viewed murder of George Floyd. Now, it seems appropriate to regard the matter of America’s racial injustice and inequity, not merely as a crisis warranting urgency, but it should be seen as a national emergency.


Like so many people around the nation and the world, I watched the video of Mr. Floyd’s murder in horror. George Floyd cooperated. He was unarmed. He never resisted. He was cuffed. He was prostrate and fearfully subject to the power and intentions of four police officers. As one officer obstructed his breathing with his knee, George Floyd begged for his life. He called for his mother. He repeated, “I can’t breathe.” And at least once, George Floyd called the officer from whom he sought mercy, “sir.” He died while respectfully appealing to the uniformed men sworn to protect us all. And we all saw it.

I shall never forget that. Nor should any of us. Clearly, our country is far from becoming the more perfect union described long ago as our aspiration. We have important work to do and we have critical choices to make.

Since the ensuing unrest has resembled that which followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it makes sense to consider Dr. King’s outlook in the final year of his life. He secluded himself for weeks to write his fourth and final book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? He made it clear that the most important choices are ours to make.

Harvard University recently made a choice to steadily and deliberately evolve our campus culture toward one that will help to ensure that everyone in our community thrives. We are pursuing what we call, “sustainable inclusive excellence.” I am proud to have led the team to launch our efforts in this direction of becoming a much better community.

Overcoming the viral systems of both white supremacy and racial inequity will require hard work that is not the responsibility of communities of color alone, but of all of us. We all have a role to play to ensure that this Nation realizes an inclusive greatness that she has yet to exhibit.

When the pandemic shifted nearly all college and university commencement ceremonies from traditional to virtual, many people thought the special moments would be completely lost. That is not entirely true. One special moment from Harvard’s virtual commencement deserves focus. The undergraduate student speaker, Michael J. Phillips, pointed to a choice facing all of us. Referencing his experiences at Harvard, he wondered how he and his fellow graduates might use their education to make themselves forces for good in the world. He ended by echoing a phrase made famous by Dr. King, who said, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Mr. Phillips called his classmates to a higher place, saying, “we were fortunate to fly high enough that we might grab the moral arc of the universe itself. May we bend it in the right direction.”

Now, more than ever, we all must choose community over chaos as the right direction.

Link to full statement


Resources on Grief and Loss

May 29, 2020

The pandemic has and continues to take a heavy toll on our community. Whether we have been directly affected by the death of a loved one, or extend our grievances to classmates, mentors, relatives, and colleagues, community, health and well-being is more important now. We gathered here some resources for the Harvard members to lean on in times of grief and loss. Write to dib@harvard.edu to add your recommendation to this list and be here for each other.

View the resources

National Trends related to Bias, Discrimination during COVID19

April 24, 2020

We have compiled national statistics capturing the impact and frequency of instances of bias and discrimination occurring since the rise of the pandemic. Existing societal inequities are exacerbated during times of crisis, and directly impact the mental and physical health, security, economic, professional, and educational well-being of Harvard community members. Acknowledging and working to thoughtfully address these issues will reinforce our commitment to diversity and display a strong show of support for our most vulnerable community members during this time. 

Download the statistics


What should I do if experience racial discrimination or observe a racist incident in the Harvard community?

April 2, 2020

graphic to submit a report via Ethics point reporting Hotline

The University and its schools have policies against racial discrimination and procedures for handling such incidents. You can also contact the Anonymous Reporting Hotline, which is run by an independent, third-party provider, toll-free by calling 877- 694-2275 or submit a report online. The hotline is for reporting issues in situations where you don’t feel comfortable speaking with a supervisor or other resource. (Please read about the hotline to better understand the reporting process, including information regarding non-retaliation and confidentiality). If, at any time, you are concerned for your safety, contact the Harvard University Police Department at 617-495-1212 or 617-432-1212 for the Longwood Medical Campus.

AAU Presidents and Chancellors Call for Unity Amid Efforts to Battle COVID-19 Pandemic

March 20, 2020

The following is a statement by the Association of American Universities member Presidents and Chancellors on the extraordinary measures America’s leading research universities are taking to address COVID-19. The idea of the 65 AAU presidents standing together and posting such a statement was first advocated and then led by our own President, Larry Bacow. It grew out of his concern about the global rise in incidents of anti-Asian hate since the emergence of the COVID-19 threat.

"Amidst the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, our universities are taking extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and communities as we continue our front-line work to fight the virus through leading-edge research and medical treatment. As we undertake this critical work, we do so as communities committed to inclusion and belonging, drawing on the knowledge and strength of individuals from across our nation and the world. Now is the time for all of us to come together to support each other. Viruses have no nationality, no religion, no ethnicity, and no gender. As the leaders of America’s leading research universities, we ask all Americans to support each other as we deploy every tool at our disposal to protect our communities and fight this disease."

Read the full press release from the AAU 


Encouraging kindness and compassion

March 13, 2020

As Harvard University rapidly transitions by exploring new ways to educate and operate, we urge all Harvard community members to embody our five core values on and far beyond our campus. Collectively, our values point us toward inclusive excellence, which is especially relevant with so many of us being apart and experiencing high levels of stress.

Unfortunately, we are hearing reports of increased anti-Asian discrimination, prejudice and harassment, globally. These hateful acts are both intolerable and inconsistent with our values. As we encourage kindness and compassion, we also urge support of those in the Asian community and any other targeted communities. Harvard condemns stereotyping and violence against any group and for any reason…and especially in times like these.

University Resources

March 12, 2020

As we are all adjusting to the many changes being asked of our community, please utilize the University resources listed below:

Where Everyone Can Thrive

March 10, 2020

Harvard University is committed to fostering a campus culture where everyone can thrive, a key to which is ensuring that we each experience a profound sense of inclusion and belonging. To that end, as a reminder, our established core values are as follows:

Harvard's five core values

Harvard community members are encouraged to always model our values of inclusion and excellence no matter where they are. Especially during difficult and uncertain times — whether locally, nationally, or internationally— let us always choose empathy and kindness, while rejecting hate and honoring the rights, differences, and dignity of others.