Massachusetts — To mark the Massachusetts Trial Court’s Cultural Appreciation Week, Middlesex Superior Clerk of Courts Michael Sullivan and Bristol Superior Clerk of Courts Marc J. Santos will swear in 70 new American citizens during two separate Naturalization ceremonies.
The first ceremony, to be conducted by Clerk of Courts Sullivan, will take place at Middlesex Superior Court, 200 Trade Center Drive, in Woburn, on Thursday, September 27, 11 am, with Superior Court Judge Susan Sullivan presiding. The second ceremony, led by Clerk of Courts Santos, is scheduled the next day, Friday, September 28, noon, at the Fall River Justice Center, 186 Main Street. Bristol Superior Court Judge Thomas F. McGuire will preside.
“It is important to let the people of this Commonwealth know that this is their court system. For some cultures, the courthouse is not a place that they necessarily feel safe to go. The beauty of Cultural Appreciation Week is to show them that this is a place where they can come and feel both welcome and safe,” said Clerk of Courts Sullivan.
Commenting on the Fall River ceremony, Clerk of Courts Santos said, “When they (new Americans) come here, they have left a lot behind and have made a lot of sacrifices. The Naturalization ceremony is a moving experience and a reminder of what America is and it is a melting pot,” Santos said.
During the ceremonies, the 70 new Americans — 50 in Woburn and 20 in Fall River — will be sworn in, the new citizens and their guests will sing the National Anthem and participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. Each participant will be presented with an American flag. Court and immigration officials will also address the crowd.
The ceremonies are two of more than 60 events being held during Cultural Appreciation Week, a celebration of the culture, ethnicity, race, and gender differences in the courts and the communities the courts and the Massachusetts Probation Service serves. This week-long observance will feature music, dance, art and museum exhibits, poetry, as well as cultural food tastings and cooking demonstrations.
The Fall River Naturalization ceremony will include family and friends of participants, along with students from Fall River and Taunton. After the ceremony there will be the sharing of cultural dishes reflecting the heritages of those in the Fall River community, a display of flags from all nations, and performances by Soca Island Dance Vibe, Cape Verdean and Portuguese singers and dancers, and Native American drummers.
Cultural Appreciation Week was introduced as a day-long ceremony last year after being conceived by Massachusetts Probation Service manager Pamerson Ifill whose goal is to unite and educate court employees around issues of diversity and inclusiveness, as well as enhance services for those who come into the courts. This event was launched with more than 120 Probation staff volunteers, referred to as Cultural Proficiency Champions, who attend regular diversity trainings and serve as ambassadors at courts and Community Corrections Centers across the Commonwealth. In addition to the Probation staff, there are now Champions from other Trial Court departments, including Housing Court and Security.
After last year’s success, Trial Court Chief Justice Paula M. Carey decided to extend the celebration to a one week, multi-event observance.
Chief Justice Carey said, “The Trial Court has embarked on a multi-pronged effort to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. We have learned that to develop our capacity to understand and respond to these issues, we must build awareness into the fabric of who we are and what we do. Diversity is not a topic that we think about or refer to only at times of crisis and complaints; rather, diversity is the way we promote justice, equity, fairness, inclusion, and respect of all people regardless of their identity. Holding naturalization ceremonies in our courts this week helps illustrate the unique fabric of our nation.”
Probation Commissioner Edward Dolan said of Cultural Appreciation Week, “We are working to achieve a racially, ethnically, and gender-balanced workforce that draws from and looks like the communities we serve. The more we understand the lives of those we serve, the more we can change those lives, improve families, and make our communities safer.”