Massachusetts Community College Launches Black Studies Program
Editor & Writer
Editor & Writer
- Massasoit Community College in Brockton will launch a Black studies associate degree program this fall.
- The degree will be the first of its kind at a community college in Massachusetts.
- Community colleges serve as key access points to higher education and typically serve a higher share of historically underserved students, including Black students.
- Students working toward the degree will learn "to critically examine, analyze, and interpret Black experiences in American society."
As officials in some states move to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, a community college in Massachusetts is offering a new degree program in Black studies starting this fall.
Massasoit Community College in Brockton will become the first community college in the commonwealth to offer a Black studies program when that associate degree launches this fall, according to a press release. That degree program will open up career paths in education, human and social services, nonprofits, government, and even in the private sector, according to the release.
Community colleges serve as crucial points of access to affordable higher education and as anchor institutions in their communities. And they typically enroll a higher share of historically underserved students, including Black students.
Officials hope the first-of-its-kind associate degree for Massachusetts will help make Black studies more accessible.
"As interest in Black and African American studies increases among our current and future students, we are excited to launch this new degree program to teach the Black experience and prepare our students for lifelong, rewarding careers," Ray DiPasquale, president of Massasoit Community College, said in the release.
"At an interdisciplinary level, Massasoit's outstanding faculty are ready to explore and share the rich history, culture, and contributions of Black people in our country."
Students working toward the degree will learn "to critically examine, analyze, and interpret Black experiences in American society," according to the release.
Adjunct Massasoit English professor Rachel Jessica Daniel, who teaches African American literature and directs the school's Center for Employee Enrichment and Development, said in the release that the new program "demonstrates our commitment to teaching liberatory and timely curricula that centers the rich history and experiences of Black Americans."
"We are excited to share this critical body of scholarship so that our students can continue to make meaningful connections between their lived experiences, the classroom, and our communities, while also preparing them for successful careers in the workplace and in other higher education institutions."
The new associate degree program is part of a larger equity agenda across Massachusetts, and Massasoit became the first community college to host a Black graduating student recognition ceremony earlier this year.
Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey, a Democrat elected in 2022, has made community colleges a cornerstone of her approach to education policy — including pushing for free community college for adult residents.
Massasoit's new degree program comes at a time when officials in Republican-led states are attacking diversity initiatives at colleges and K-12 schools alike. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year banned AP African American studies courses from Florida high schools, citing the state's Stop WOKE Act.