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Helena ’23 hosts panel on criminal justice reform as a part of a new ASM speaker series

Van Jones and Ben Crump pose for photos. Jones and Crump spoke at an ASM organized by Helena ’23 on March 19. Photos courtesy of US Department of Labor and Tony Webster.

Prominent social justice leaders Van Jones and Ben Crump spoke about criminal justice reform in an All-School Meeting on March 19 as part of a new speaker series created by Helena Hudlin ’23. In the ASM, Dean of College Counseling Brian K. Smith, Helena and the panelists discussed the inequalities of the U.S. prison system impacting Black and Brown communities, including the ongoing Derek Chauvin trial and ways students can be more involved. 

Helena began the process of bringing this new speaker series to Marlborough in the summer of 2020. 

“I always wanted to take my efforts to the next level, and educate people on a larger scale,” she said. “During the summer, I had a lot of time on my hands to just sit around and think, so I began to develop an idea my uncle and I had come up with: a speakers series.”

With the support of 10th Grade Dean Anna Robinson, Dean of Social Justice and Community Partnerships Pamela Wright and Dean of Student Life Brett Quimby, Helena organized the panel. She felt inspired to make the first panel topic about criminal justice reform to inform the Marlborough community. 

“As a member of the Black community, I have always been aware of how unfair our criminal justice system is, and how racism is so deeply rooted into it,” Helena said. “During the Black Lives Matter Movement, I felt that this issue was now at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but many people were missing the key facts. I also felt that many people did not know how they could help. This is why I wanted criminal justice reform to be a topic for the event, so listeners could be both educated and inspired in this field.” 

Helena hopes to host one panel of two to three people concerning contemporary issues per quarter. Proposed future panel topics include voting, climate change and the movement to stop AAPI hate.

“All panels will be designed to educate people about important issues, and inspire them to take action,” Helena said.

Although it is undecided if the speaker series will be a permanent addition to ASMs, Helena envisions the series continuing in a different manner such as after school, during lunch periods or weekends. 

“Being able to share my discussion with the Marlborough community on such a large scale was absolutely incredible, and I am so grateful to the Marlborough administration for their help and support throughout the entire process.”