- Associated Press - Sunday, June 28, 2020

BOSTON (AP) - Black executives and other corporate leaders of color in Massachusetts have launched a social justice fund to support minority communities.

The goal of the New Commonwealth Racial Equity and Social Justice Fund is to provide “essential support, resources and thought leadership for uncovering and dismantling systemic racism and all of its various and insidious forms,” the organization said in an announcement late Saturday.

Organizers say they have about $20 million in commitments to help launch the fund, primarily from the companies where the 19 founding members work, as well as from their own personal wealth. They hope to raise at least $100 million, and begin issuing grants in a few months.

Organizers say they’ll initially be focused on supporting initiatives and nonprofit organizations working on policing and criminal justice reform, healthcare equity, economic empowerment, youth education, and civic engagement.

Paul Francisco, chief diversity officer at the financial firm State Street and one of the corporate leaders involved in the effort, said a fund of this kind has never been attempted in Massachusetts.



“It’s time to change the narrative on race in Boston,” he said. “We firmly believe we can make the lasting and meaningful changes our communities of color so desperately need.”

Quincy Miller, president of Eastern Bank, said minority organizations are chronically underfunded. Black-led nonprofits have, on average, revenues 24% smaller and net assets 76% smaller than their white-led counterparts, the organization said.

Among the other corporate leaders involved are former Democratic U.S. Sen. Mo Cowan, who is global government affairs president at General Electric; Fred Lowery, head of life sciences and laboratory products Thermo Fisher Scientific; Pamela Everhart, a senior vice president at Fidelity; Greg Shell, a managing director at Bain Capital; and Linda Dorcena Forry, a vice president at Suffolk Construction and a former Democratic state lawmaker.

Here’s a look at other developments in Massachusetts around the nationwide reckoning on racism sparked by George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police:

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NATIVE AMERICAN MASCOTS

Campaigns have been launched to change the Native American-themed names and mascots used by two Central Massachusetts school districts.

An online petition seeks to change Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough’s name and its Tomahawks mascot while another calls for retiring the Chieftains name used by Nashoba Regional High School in Bolton.

Organizers of the Algonquin petition argue the “Algonquin” name was “stolen” from the Algonquin people without their consent and that the school’s tomahawk logo perpetuates stereotypes of Native Americans as violent and barbaric.

Organizers of Nashoba campaign argue that the Chieftain mascots is derogatory and has “serious social, cultural and psychological ramifications for Native Americans, especially Native youth.”

The campaigns are among others in the state and nationality seeking to change problematic Native American references in schools and sports teams.

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COLUMBUS SCHOOL NAME

School committee members in Medford say police have boosted patrols around their homes following last week’s controversial vote to begin the process of renaming Columbus Elementary School.

Paul Ruseau, the committee’s vice chair, tells the Boston Globe that police have been driving by his house several times a day because a resident posted the names and addresses of committee members on Facebook and urged residents to protest in front of them.

Residents in favor of keeping the school name honoring Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, who helped open the door to centuries of oppression of Native Americans, have also created a Facebook page called “Medford United” to counter progressive activists and “other radical organizations.”

As part of the committee’s decision, the district will form a separate panel to come up with a new name by February, and the process would be finalized by July 2021.

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