Urmitapa Dutta, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Peace and Conflict Studies Program
Faculty Associate, Center for Women and Work
University of Massachusetts Lowell
The African Community Center of Lowell is an impressive example of grassroots civic and community advocacy that is responsive to the cartographies of people’s struggles. The African Community Center of Lowell serves a very critical need in the local community as a cultural and community center that is anchored in the experiences of those it purports to support. While the emphasis is on providing direct services to families whenever possible for connecting them to appropriates resources/services, the center is steadfast in its commitment to peace and conflict advocacy and involvement/solidarity with social justice struggles in the wider community. It is inspiring to see a new center with few resources navigate complex issues while unwavering in their work with refugee families.
Founder and Executive Director, Mr. Gordon Halm has used his own experiences of being a immigrant in this country to emerge as a highly respected and beloved community leader in the African diaspora in the greater Lowell area. I have had the honor of having Mr. Halm in my class, which offered a glimpse into his trials and tribulations as a refugee and how he continues to draw upon those experiences to work relentlessly to build the kinds of supports and structures for new refugee families. I recently brought my graduate Advanced Community Dynamics class to ACCL where Mr. Halm facilitated an interesting and educational session on migration. Students learned a lot from the session and were especially struck by the ways in which he constantly engages people and communities, including his detractors. They recognize the authenticity, the genuine care for fellow humans, and the skills that are necessary to engage people what appears to be an effortless manner, and hope to aspire toward these ideals in their own community engagement.