BFSA celebrates esteemed African-Americans at Johns Hopkins

On Friday night in Homewood's Glass Pavilion, the Black Faculty and Staff Association celebrated the accomplishments of esteemed Johns Hopkins faculty, staff, and alumni at the annual Juneteenth Celebration, the holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

The celebration marks the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers led by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended. The Emancipation Proclamation itself, ending slavery in the Confederacy, at least on paper, had taken effect two and a half years before the slaves in Galveston were given their freedom.

This year's event paid tribute to the outstanding services of African-Americans at Johns Hopkins.

A physician, a litigator, an engineer, and a former admissions officer were newly inducted into the Indispensable Role of Blacks at Johns Hopkins traveling exhibit, which shares the intertwined history of blacks and Johns Hopkins.

The organization honored past and present BFSA presidents with this year's Yates Award, named for Rev. John "Jack" Henry Yates, who in 1872 led a fundraising campaign to purchase a park in Houston dedicated to Juneteenth celebrations.

The Yates Award is given to a Johns Hopkins employee of African descent in recognition of major achievement and excellence in the field of science, technology, engineering, math, and business. The first Yates award was presented, in 2010, to Levi Watkins Jr., the Johns Hopkins surgeon and civil rights activist, who died in April and was also honored at this year's event.

Roland J. Thorpe, an assistant professor and director of the Program for Research on Men's Health in the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, delivered the keynote address.

The new inductees into the Indispensable Role of Blacks at Johns Hopkins are:

  • Janine Clayton, deputy director of the Office of Women's Health at the National Institutes of Health, a Johns Hopkins graduate who received her medical degree from Howard University and did her fellowship training at the Wilmer Eye Institute.

  • Robert Clayton, former president of the Johns Hopkins Society of Black Alumni and a family law attorney in Los Angeles.

  • Ronald C. Owens, former assistant director of Admissions at Johns Hopkins who was responsible for recruiting and admitting many African-American students during his tenure in the 1970s.

  • Clifford V. Smith, an engineer and former chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who earned both his master's degree in environmental engineering and his PhD in radiological science from Johns Hopkins.

The BFSA presidents who received the Yates Award are Allison Pullins, 1995–96; Jeff Givens, 1996–97; Paul T. White, 1997–98; Vernon T. Savage, 1998–99; Regine Laforest-Sharif, 1999–2000; Lori Hackett, 2001–2002; Celeste Turner, 2002–2003; Nadine Finigan-Carr, 2003–2004; Betty Addison, 2004–2005; Ralph Johnson, 2005–2006; Robert Holder, 2006–2007; Deborah G. Savage, 2007–2008 and 2012–present; Vernon T. Savage, 2008–2009; Wayne Bethea, 2009–2010; Lisette Johnson-Hill, 2010–11; and Phillip Seaman, 2011–12.