What we now appreciate as the Black Faculty & Staff Association (BFSA) was first envisioned during a lunch meeting at the Polo Grill in the Colonnade Baltimore, early 1995 as seven Hopkins employees, all Black from seven difference departments, who held positions of senior staff or faculty, discussed what they saw as the University's inadequate response to a white staff's physical assault of a Black colleague.
Having formed in response to the needs of that staff member, the BFSA now continues to serve the JHU community by helping to provide an environment where all may feel valued and respected. BFSA acts in the role of an advocate, information resource, provider of networking and professional development opportunities, and community outreach provider for JHU faculty and staff. The Hopkins administration and the BFSA enjoy a formal relationship by which communication between employees and administration is facilitated. In addition to regular written and verbal communication, for several years, the BFSA has invited the University President to address the full BFSA membership in an annual combined caucus meeting. One outcome of that meeting was creation of the Indispensable Roles of Blacks at Johns Hopkins.
The Indispensable Role of Blacks at Johns Hopkins exhibit is an outgrowth of a conversation between President Daniels and the BFSA, during which members of the BFSA expressed a desire to raise the visibility of blacks and point to the many contributions the group has made to Johns Hopkins.
Our members shared with Daniels the desire for prospective students and their parents, particularly those from the black community, to see and learn more about the university’s multi-cultural roots. The BFSA members were also interested in a way to show current students, faculty and staff as well as community members and other stakeholders and visitors to the institution’s various campuses, that blacks have made an indelible mark on Johns Hopkins from medicine and the sciences to the arts and humanities. President Daniels agreed, and, at his direction, an advisory committee of Johns Hopkins staff, along with BFSA members, was formed to explore ways to recognize the black men and women of Johns Hopkins.
The committee and the BFSA members determined that the best way to accomplish this objective was to pick up where the BFSA left off with its “History of African Americans at Johns Hopkins” project and expand it. Hence, the Indispensable Role of Blacks at Johns Hopkins is a representation of what President Daniels and the BFSA hoped to accomplish – to show that blacks have and will continue to play and important role in shaping Johns Hopkins
The exhibit was launched in April, 2012 consisted of a free-standing, traveling display and window decals featuring photos of men and women whose stories offer glimpses of the intertwined history of blacks and Johns Hopkins. The display and window images were supported by a website, which includes brief narratives of the individuals highlighted in the exhibit. The exhibit is a living display. Every year we will try to install new people to the the exhibit. The 2013 nominees were inducted at the 2014 Juneteenth Celebration. This year the following to the display. You are invited to nominate individuals or groups to be added.
In 2007, the BFSA hosted a national conference, Fixing the Academy: Tapping Black Excellence on White Campuses, featuring participants from Princeton University, Rice University, Kansas State University, Renssellaer Polytechnic Institute, and many others. In addition to noted speakers such as Wilberforce University President Floyd Flake and Kansas State University Associate Provost Myra Gordon, the BFSA organized working sessions for participants to share experiences and ideas to help address issues that we found were common across our various institutions.
The BFSA is also active in partnering with other organizations with similar goals of creating a welcoming work environment for all. For example, the BFSA has collaborated with the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE) and presented at its 2008 National Conference in Houston, Texas.
In addition to high-level approaches, the BFSA is committed to enhancing the day-to-day work environment for all JHU employees. Highlights of BFSA activity include the work of its Access & Equity, Professional Development, and Outreach committees. We offer avenues for members to express concerns, professional development seminars, cultural events that offer education and fellowship benefits, and outreach opportunities to contribute to the surrounding Baltimore community. The BFSA also serves as a resource to the university administration on a variety of topics and issues.
The BFSA is committed to being a part of helping all JHU faculty and staff reach their full potential, and, in doing so, strengthening the collective ability of the Johns Hopkins community. The Black Faculty and Staff Association is open to all employees of the Johns Hopkins Institutions and welcomes the collective energy and ideas that contribute to our shared goals.