Anti-black racism is not new. In fact, it is older than the nation itself. But the struggle to overcome this racism is also not new. Indeed, during each generation, a new group of leaders rise up to fight inequities and challenge the status quo. In light of the killing of George Floyd, the latest in the string of such brutal acts, a new generation of Americans is standing up for racial justice.
This is a time for action… Therefore, today, we at the Brown University School of Public Health and Tougaloo College are pleased to announce the launch of the Health Equity Scholars. The need to focus on equity has come again into sharp relief with the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people of color. The combination of systemic racism, the coronavirus pandemic, and disproportionate economic devastation has made it clear that we must all respond.
The goal of the Scholars program is simple: by expanding the voices in public health – by changing the makeup of public health leadership – we can together play a helpful role in addressing racism as a public health problem. We commit to doing our part to ensure that the next generation of public health leaders are more representative of America’s diverse populations. This is the first of many steps we will take together toward this end.
The relationship between Brown University, based in Providence, Rhode Island, and Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi is an old one. The partnership, founded in 1964, has allowed generations of students and faculty at both institutions to visit with each other and learn from each other. Building on this long history, Brown and Tougaloo previously established the Partnership in Public Health, which allows Tougaloo students to take advantage of unique educational opportunities at both Tougaloo and Brown. This Scholars program builds on that legacy of working together.
We realize that the path to health equity in our country is long and has been paved by leading scholars and practitioners. This Scholars program is one more step that we take together towards that goal.
The Scholars program will feature an MPH from Brown School of Public Health with supplemental mentoring and training in leadership. It will be open to current students and graduates of Tougaloo College and will initially admit up to five scholars in the MPH Program this fall and in subsequent years. The Scholars program includes a full tuition scholarship, enhanced mentorship, and internships focused on training the next generation of public health leaders.
We could not be more pleased about working together on this effort.
Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH
Bess H. Marcus, PhD
Wendy White, PhD, MPH