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HARVARD BLACK STUDENTS ASSOCIATION

Student Organization Center at Hilles (SOCH), Mailbox #19 59 Shepard Street Cambridge, MA 02138 www.harvardbsa.com

October 12, 2007

Sarah Lockridge-Steckel `09, President

Timothy Turner `09, Vice President

Honorable Deval L. Patrick, Governor Commonwealth of Massachusetts The State House, Room 360 Boston, Massachusetts, 02133 Dear Governor Patrick, My name is Sarah Lockridge-Steckel, and I am currently President of the Harvard Black Students Association (BSA). I am writing you on behalf of the organization, and a growing number of college students from around the state. We have serious concerns regarding your silence on the issue of youth violence in Massachusetts. We wonder what it will take for you to open your eyes to the bloodshed that is occurring in neighborhoods across Boston. One must only open the newspaper to be confronted by the fact that youth are being senselessly killed on Boston streets. The bullets that have ripped apart Boston communities may be far enough away for you to ignore, but we were under the impression you were supposed to respond to the concerns of all Massachusetts residents. Perhaps we were wrong. We have to say, Governor Patrick, that we were optimistic when you were running to be Governor of Massachusetts. As the Commonwealth's first African-American governor, you stood poised to fulfill the dreams of the many people that supported you. It was not your race, but your shared experiences of both hardship and perseverance that resonated with the people of Massachusetts. Your grassroots message was that of "hope, community and hard work." Yet now, nearly one year later, we wonder what communities you were talking about. It cannot be the black and Latino communities, as you have failed to adequately support them. Now, we can only hope that you will do better. Our concerns are not to say you have done nothing. On the contrary, you have demonstrated that you are aware of the surge in Boston violence. Last spring, you announced a $15 million statewide anti-crime plan, including the creation of an anti-crime council. Although an inadequate sum, you seemed to address the need for youth summer jobs, and for "spending money smartly" in order to address the rising crime rates. Your anti-crime plan is slated to devote funds to police patrols, after school programs, surveillance, tutoring, drug treatment and job training. While making communities safer is your stated aim, the anti-crime resources seem to be spread rather thin amongst a hodgepodge of solutions with the hope that one of them will work. In your list of priorities for the state of Massachusetts, where does the eradication of youth violence and black-on-black crime fall? Perhaps to you, the 52 homicides that have occurred in Boston this year are not as impressive a number as the billion dollars you plan to earmark for the development of the biotech industry in Massachusetts. In your justification of your biotech plans in your Boston Globe op-ed, you asserted "this 10-year, $1 billion investment marks a new partnership between state government, industry, academic medical centers, and public and private higher education."

Akilah Chrichlow `10, Secretary

Sarah Anoke `09, Treasurer

Brittany Northcross `09, Alumni Representative Brittany Walker-Meade '10, Arts & Entertainment Chair

Malcolm Rivers `09, Political Action Chair

Saron Tesfalul `10, Publications Chair

Justin White `10, Publicity Chair

DeAndra Jamerson `09, Public Service Chair

Mariesa Ricks `08 Senior Representative

Hilles Library 3rd floor, Room 355 [email protected]

HARVARD BLACK STUDENTS ASSOCIATION

Student Organization Center at Hilles (SOCH), Mailbox #19 59 Shepard Street Cambridge, MA 02138 www.harvardbsa.com

We have to note that we are impressed by your long-term vision, and your commitment to innovation in Massachusetts. An investment of this magnitude will yield both jobs and scientific advancements that are sure to touch many of our lives. While we marvel at the complexity of your ideas and your insistence upon the necessity of such a project, we wonder why you have yet to unveil such a comprehensive plan to address violence in Massachusetts. Did we miss your efforts to unite parents, young people, activists, professors, community leaders, police and politicians to create such a strategy? In support of biotech industries, you explained that your efforts were not just about the Massachusetts scientific community or America's global leadership, but about the health of our society. While we understand the importance of such developments to the health of our society, we cannot help but look at one simple fact. While health is important, in order to be healthy, you need to be alive. In 10 years, at the rate we are going, too many of our children will be dead. How will the advancements in the biotech industry impact them, Governor Patrick? As black students in Massachusetts, we stand in solidarity with the black high school students who authored "The Open Letter to Governor Deval L. Patrick Regarding Youth Violence in the Black Community" on September 12, 2007. We urge you to listen to the pleas of your constituents. The cries of demonstrators at the State House, youth voices at rallies and suggestions of policymakers seem to have gone largely unnoticed. So we will join the chorus of voices that has already demanded more from you and our government. You are correct that Massachusetts is filled with universities, hospitals and research facilities. But all too close to these beacons of knowledge are the communities suffering from failed services, a substandard education system, and unanswered calls. We are one of many now asking, where is Governor Deval Patrick? Here is your opportunity to provide concrete answers. When your schedule permits, we invite you to address the black community at Harvard to present your comprehensive strategy for measurably reducing black on black violence. Governor Patrick, with all due respect, we must state clearly that we will not be spun. We are not looking for photo opportunities. The black community needs measurable results. A movement is growing to reduce black-on-black violence. We hope you will join. Respectfully yours,

Sarah Lockridge-Steckel President, Harvard Black Students Association Harvard College Class of 2009

CC: The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Harvard Crimson, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Professor Evelyn Higginbotham, Professor William Julius Wilson, Professor Bruce Western, Professor Charles J. Ogletree

Hilles Library 3rd floor, Room 355 [email protected]

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