Bedford Embraces Diversity

Poet and Performance Artist Regie Gibson, a METCO Parents Panel, and a Pair of Service Projects are Planned for MLK, Jr. Day

 A nationally-known artist and a panel of METCO parents will highlight the fifth Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance, sponsored by Bedford Embraces Diversity. There is also a community service project planned, consistent with the intent of the national commemoration when it was approved in 1983.

This will be the second virtual event, and it is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m on Martin Luther King Kr. Day – Monday, Jan. 17. To obtain a link to the Zoom program, write to bedfordembracesdiversity@gmail.com.

Opening the event will be Regie Gibson of Lexington, a poet, songwriter, author, workshop facilitator, and educator who has been teaching and performing for the past generation. A native of Chicago, Gibson won the National Poetry Slam in 1998. His resume is wide-ranging – from performing in dramatic and poetic adaptations and co-producing a play to writing an award-winning full-length book of poetry and founding a literary and musical arts ensemble. His work has been published in anthologies, magazines and journals. Gibson received a master of fine arts degree in poetry from New England College, and continues to facilitate creative writing workshops, performances, and literary curricula for high schools and colleges across the United States.

Bedford Embraces Diversity is working with Akil Mondesir, METCO coordinator for the Bedford schools, to assemble a panel of current and former METCO parents who represent a range of student ages and experiences.

The question-and-answer format will allow exploration of the families’ assessment of the strengths of the program in Bedford and what could be improved, as well as ways in which local resident can learn from their fellow students and families from Boston.

The community service piece is a collaboration involving Bedford Embraces Diversity, the Rotary Club of Bedford, and the Council on Aging. Volunteers will be available to perform at no cost small, helpful household tasks for older residents – making minor home repairs, changing light bulbs, moving of light objects around the house, running errands.

There will be a sign-up sheet managed by Council on Aging staff and made available to COA members early January. Bedford Embraces Diversity and Rotary organizers will match up Bedford volunteers with the requests.

DONATION DRIVE : 1/15/2022 – 1/23/2022

As part of our Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance, Bedford Embraces Diversity, the Parents Diversity Council and the Rotary Club will be holding a donation drive to support the Bedford Food Bank, which provides for about 120 households a week and is always in need of items that aren’t available through Greater Boston Food Bank or other donors. 

Items on this list include:
antiperspirant, shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent tabs, socks for men and women, Clorox wipes, diapers, pullups, incontinence underwear for men and women

Youth and Family Services also accepts gift cards to distribute to residents in need throughout the year. There will be collection boxes at 18 Balsam Drive and 120 North Road from Jan 15-23.  The boxes will be closely monitored and emptied frequently so donated items will be safe.

To make things even simpler, Bedford Youth and Family Services has two Amazon wish lists where you can purchase items and have them sent directly to their office:
The Food Bank Wishlist:  https://a.co/cRDFKGF

The Diaper Bank Wishlist:  https://a.co/eY30EQP

BEDFORD EMBRACES DIVERSITY

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.