May 31, 2018
Contact: Shelley Dawicki

Woods Hole Juneteenth Celebration Features Presentation on Martha’s Vineyard African American Community

John K. Bullard Diversity Award will also be presented

The 2018 Woods Hole Juneteenth celebration, sponsored by the Woods Hole Black History Month Committee and the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative, continues the theme of “education and achievement” with a presentation by Richard L. Taylor on “Race, Property, and the Power of Place: A Story of the African American Community on Martha’s Vineyard.” Following Taylor’s presentation, the Diversity Initiative will present the 2018 John K. Bullard Diversity Award to Onjalé Scott and Scott Branco.

Taylor's presentation will trace the history of the island’s African American community since the early 19th century, when the island was one of the few places where people of color could own vacation property without discrimination. The event will take place on Tuesday, June 19, at 3:00 p.m. in the Speck Auditorium of Rowe Laboratory at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL). It is free and open to the public.

Taylor currently holds dual professional assignments as the Chairman of the Taylor Smith Group, where he manages multiple real estate business entities, and as the Founding Director of the Center for Real Estate at Suffolk University. The first Rhodes Scholar at Boston University, where he was a varsity basketball player, Taylor earned a B.S. degree in communications and a second bachelor’s degree from Oxford University.

He graduated from Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School and began his career at the Boston Consulting Group, providing strategic planning services to a wide range of industries at Fortune 500 companies. He also served in a number of roles at Fidelity Investments, including as Vice President for Development, securing the development rights for the Commonwealth Pier property and the Commonwealth Flats. These locations are now occupied by the World Trade Center, the Seaport Hotel and the Fidelity office buildings.

His desire to give back to the community for the opportunities that he has enjoyed professionally and personally led Taylor to become involved in civic engagement and public service. He worked on congressional campaigns for Joseph Moakley and Edward Brooke, and served as Secretary of Transportation and Construction and Chairman of the Board of the MBTA under former Governor William F. Weld.

He has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, as Chairman of the Board of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, and as a member of the Board of Higher Education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Founding president of the Minority Developers Association, Taylor has also served as a trustee of Boston University and Cambridge College, and as an overseer at Wentworth Institute. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Engineering Technology by Wentworth Institute of Technology and an Honorary Doctor of Public Service from Bridgewater State College.

Presentation of 2018 John Bullard Diversity Award

The 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, will be presented to two individuals by the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative as part of the Juneteenth event at the MBL.

Onjalé Scott will be honored for her many contributions to the Woods Hole Partnership Education Program (PEP) and her professional and personal dedication to Woods Hole diversity and inclusion efforts over more than six years. Scott Branco was a senior administrator at the Sea Education Association (SEA) for more than a dozen years, and has been a behind-the-scenes leader in the Woods Hole diversity effort since the inception of the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative and PEP. He will be honored for his support in managing the finances of PEP, the Diversity Initiative and Diversity Advisory Committee, and his commitment to make SEA and the Woods Hole community more diverse and inclusive.

The award is named in honor of John Bullard, former president of the Sea Education Association, who was presented the first award in 2012 for his leadership, vision, and commitment to diversity in the Woods Hole science community and for his role in forming the Woods Hole Diversity Initiative and serving on the Woods Hole Diversity Advisory Committee. Lionel Hall of MBL received the award in 2014; Geologist Benjamin T. Gutierrez of the U.S. Geological Survey received the award in 2016.

Juneteeth Celebration

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 Juneteenth celebration is 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 a Woods Hole Diversity Advisory Committee to make recommendations as to how the institutions can make the village a more diverse, more inclusive community. The memorandum was reaffirmed by the six institutions in 2012.

The Woods Hole Black History Month Committee and the Woods Hole Diversity Advisory Committee are composed of members from the six scientific institutions in Woods Hole: Marine Biological Laboratory, NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service-Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole Research Center, and the U.S. Geological Survey's Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center. The committees organize special events during February for Black History Month and throughout the year to promote diversity in the institutions and in the local community.