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Dr. Waldo E.Johnson, Jr.
Juneteenth keynote speaker Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D, MSW. Courtesy: The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.
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June 5, 2014
Contact: Shelley Dawicki
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Woods Hole Black History Month Committee Plans Juneteenth Celebration with Lecture, Award, and Panel on Civil Rights June 19

Civil rights in education and the opportunity to participate in science are among the topics to be discussed at the 2014 Woods Hole Juneteenth celebration, sponsored by the Woods Hole Black History Month Committee and the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative. The events are free and open to the public, and will be held in Speck Auditorium, Rowe Laboratory, at 10 MBL Street in Woods Hole beginning at noon on June 19.

The celebration begins with a keynote presentation at noon by Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D., MSW of The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.  Dr. Johnson, an associate professor, focuses his research on examining male roles within African American families, especially young African American males and nonresident African American fathers within impoverished urban families. He also studies their access and engagement in medical and behavioral health services, linking their physical, economic, and psychological well-being to social and family roles functioning. Dr. Johnson has had extensive experience examining masculinity and the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of African American males, and issues related to fatherhood, family, and child welfare.

Dr. Johnson received his B.A. degree in sociology and English in 1977 from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and his M.S.W. in community practice and administration from the School of Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1979. He earned his Ph.D. in social welfare policy from The University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration in 1993 before serving in several postdoctoral fellowship positions involving research and training programs on poverty, the underclass, and public policy at the University of Michigan.

He is an invited member of the Working Group on Health Disparities in Men and Boys, Public Interest Directorate of the American Psychological Association, and an invited member of the African American Males Advisory Group of the Alliance for Racial Equity in Child Welfare, Center for Study of Social Policy in Washington, DC. Dr. Johnson is also a member of the Illinois African American Family Commission, and serves as co-chair of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Research and Information Consortium, Network for Black Male Masculinity, Mathematica Policy Research Parent and Children Together (PACT) Qualitative Research Evaluation Team for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Responsible Fatherhood Study. He is also a research consultant for Fathers in America, a PBS/South Carolina Education TV series scheduled to air in 2016.  The series of six one-hour program segments examines the historical context of contemporary American fatherhood.

During the celebration longtime MBL employee Lionel Hall will receive the 2014 John K. Bullard Diversity Award, given every other year to an individual in the Woods Hole community who plays a significant role in making the community more inclusive and more welcoming of people of all backgrounds. The award was first presented in 2012 to its namesake, former Sea Education Association president John Bullard.

A panel discussion will conclude the afternoon events. Panelists include Bradford Brown, a NOAA scientist now retired with a lifelong interest in civil rights, both personal and professional; Jacqueline Fields, a trustee at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and former faculty member at Wellesley College; Chinonye “Chi Chi”  Nnakwe, Director of Graduate Diversity Recruitment in the Office of the Provost, University of Chicago; and Ben Gutierrez, a research scientist in the Coastal and Marine Geology Program at the U.S. Geological Survey in Woods Hole and program course coordinator for the Woods Hole Partnership Education Program.  Dr. Harold Bibb, Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences and Associate Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School at the University of Rhode Island, will serve as moderator. 

The panelists will discuss civil rights from a variety of perspectives, including their own experiences in their lives and careers and efforts to promote diversity and inclusion as the nation  marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the 60th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education in 2014.

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States, dating back to its origin in Galveston, Texas, when Union soldiers enforced the Emancipation Proclamation and freed all remaining slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865. Celebrations today focus on African American freedom and emphasize education and achievement.

The Woods Hole Black History Month Committee comprises members from the six scientific institutions in Woods Hole: Marine Biological Laboratory, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole Research Center, and USGS Science Center for Coastal and Marine Geology. The committee organizes special events during February for Black History Month and throughout the year to promote diversity in the institutions and in the local community.

The Juneteenth celebration is also supported by the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative.  In 2004 the leaders of six Woods Hole science institutions signed a memorandum committing their institutions to work together to attract and retain a more diverse workforce. That memorandum established the Woods Hole Scientific Community Diversity Initiative. The Diversity Initiative in turn established an advisory committee to make recommendations as to how the institutions can make the village a more diverse, more inclusive community.  

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