Divinity School students Melissa Bartholomew and Rachel Foran are the co-chairs of the Harvard Divinity School Racial Justice & Healing Initiative, a group of HDS students committed to cross-disciplinary dialogue, scholarship, and training in order to address personal and systemic racism.

HDS communications recently caught up with Melissa and Rachel to learn more about the initiative and their efforts to ensure conversations and engagement on racial healing and justice have an enduring place at HDS.

HDS: Where do things stand with regard to the status of the Racial Justice and Healing Initiative? Is the idea that the “initiative” will become a “center”?

Melissa & Rachel: We registered the HDS Racial Justice and Healing Initiative as an official HDS student group in January 2015. The long-term vision is to establish a Center for Racial Justice and Healing at HDS.

Dean David Hempton and his administration have demonstrated consistent support for our efforts, and they have also been clear about the challenges of a center model. Our vision for a center reflects our collective response to the urgent need to cultivate racial justice and healing in our time, as well as to provide a foundation for generations to come. We are “dreaming big” and acting now to address the pressing moral crisis of racism.

The tragic events in Baltimore underscore the urgency of this work. Racial justice and healing must become a national priority.

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