In Remembrance of Juneteenth

Dear RBHS Community Members:

Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences is committed to fostering an inclusive environment in which people of all backgrounds are treated with respect and dignity and are able to thrive. In recognition of Juneteenth, the historically celebrated commemoration of the freeing of the last holdout of slavery within the confederate states in 1865, we reaffirm our responsibility to advocate and take action to deliver on our vision for a more just and inclusive world.

Social injustice and systemic racism constitute a deep-rooted nationwide plague that causes undue suffering on our communities of color, and especially on our Black community members. Research has repeatedly confirmed the disparities in household income, education funding, unemployment, incarceration, and of course population health, infant mortality, and more, that are suffered by Black Americans.

As informed and conscientious community leaders we bear the responsibility of examining these issues and employing fact and reason to combat prejudicial sentiments and actions that promote equity and healing. Higher education, the health professions, and our university itself are of course not immune from these problems.

As we work to deliver further on this goal, our Office of Diversity and Inclusion has launched a new webpage, Together We Grow, to provide numerous resources and a starting space for community members to learn and grow their shared understanding to better understand the impacts of systemic and ongoing racism and the means to combat them in our communities. Importantly, our goal is not simply to recognize the inequities but to work with you to jointly advance our efforts into meaningful and measurable progress.

We hope you will also join us for our Round Table discussion next Friday, June 26, at 1 p.m. when Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Sangeeta Lamba and I will be joined by some of our colleagues to begin a collective conversation and recommitment to address health disparities magnified by COVID-19 and explore ways to dismantle the structural racialization that underlies them.  Joining us to provide brief presentations and answer questions are:

  • Henry F. Raymond, DrPH, MPH
    Associate Professor, Biostatistics – Epidemiology, Rutgers School of Public Health
    Associate Director for Public Health, The Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness
  • Denise V. Rodgers, MD, FAAFP
    Vice Chancellor for Interprofessional Programs
    Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • Patricia N. Whitley-Williams, MD
    Associate Dean for Inclusion and Diversity, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
    Chief, Allergy, Immunology and Infectious Disease, Department of Pediatrics, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

As we reflect today on the impact of the history of slavery in the United States and the echoes that resound to this day, we recognize that we still have a long way to go.  While much of this work may be uncomfortable and difficult, we are committed to taking action and practicing humility, patience, and creativity to foster the growth and learning that are necessary to bring about meaningful change.

To quote President Barack Obama: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek!”


Brian L. Strom, MD, MPH
Chancellor, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Rutgers University