Bedford Embraces Diversity

Dr. Priscilla Douglas

Dr. Priscilla DouglasHer Legacy: First Black Family of Bedford

Bedford Embraces Diversity, in observance of Black History Month,  will sponsor Dr. Priscilla Douglas for a Zoom event Wednesday, Feb 23, beginning at 7 pm. Dr. Priscilla Douglas, named a “Most Impactful Black Woman”, will share recollections of her childhood as part of the first black family in Bedford, as well as her subsequent achievements in business and government. 

Residents of all ages are encouraged to join; please write for the link.

Douglas was appointed by Governor William F. Weld as the first Black Woman to serve in the commonwealth’s gubernatorial cabinet. She served as Secretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, chair of the Boston Public Library’s Board of Trustees, a Panelist for the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships and on the boards of the American Repertory Theater, the Boston Museum of Science, Leader Bank and the International Women’s Forum -Massachusetts.  

Priscilla Douglas also has published two books:  

Getting There & Staying There: Coaching Questions To Get There And Stay, 2013 

Woke Leadership: Profits, Prophets & Purpose, 2021


Bedford Embraces Diversity opposes all acts of discrimination or hate, regardless of time, place, or group being targeted. While such acts prevail throughout the country and world, our position is that no-hate communities like Bedford cannot accept these in any shape or form.  The Bedford Embraces Diversity group was originally formed in 2014 in response to incidents of anti-Semitism occurring on school campuses and in town. One of three task forces formed to represent concerned citizens, Bedford Embraces Diversity (BED), co-founded by Marilou Barsam and Valerie Rushanan, focuses on raising community awareness and multi-cultural appreciation.  A second interfaith group was formed to represent the concern of cross-denominational clergy, and a third group was organized by school superintendent Jon Sills to focus on the school system’s curriculum and teacher/student diversity training. 

One of Bedford Embraces Diversity’s first projects was to lead residents of the Bedford community in creating a “Diversity Quilt,” consisting of individual drawings that expressed the artists’ interpretations of what diversity and respect for differences meant to them. Children and adults worked on these during Bedford Day and the Bedford Public library hung the completed quilt in the community exhibit area for several weeks. Since that initial event, BED, now a fully operational non-profit organization, has organized three independent “Multicultural Festivals”, which have included keynote speakers, local dance performers, artisan and craft vendors, and food purveyors representing the many varied cultures and backgrounds of people that live in Bedford. Now the multicultural festival is a permanent fixture of the town’s Bedford Day. Additionally, for the last three years BED has sponsored a Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial breakfast for the community. These events have featured panels of African –American students, school administrators, or METCO graduates who candidly shared their perspectives on the state of interracial relations here in Bedford and in the country in general. 

Currently, the group is focused on building stronger relationships with the Bedford school district and town agencies like the Violence Prevention Coalition to further support an all-inclusive Bedford community. The quilt, our Facebook page, and website, and our ongoing work are meant to symbolize the unity of all individuals and remind us of our obligation to ensure that every adult and child alike feel they live in a safe and welcoming community.

Our Mission Statement

  • Educate the community about the diverse cultural, religious, racial, and gender groups that make up Bedford’s population.
  • Take actions showing that Bedford stands on the side of respecting all individuals and not on the side of bullying, hate, or violence.
  • Celebrate the wonderful benefits of living in a community like Bedford that is so rich in diversity.