Roxbury's Self-Help Agencies Call For Boycott of Joint Center Work

Black self-help agencies in Boston have declared a boycott of the Harvard-M.I.T. Joint Center for Urban Studies.

Bryant Rollins, Director of the Grove Hall Community Development Corporation, which includes Operation Exodus, CORE, and the American Friends Service Committee, said he was calling on the entire Boston community "not to cooperate in any way with the Center."

Community agencies participating in the boycott would refuse to reveal information about people they help, he said. He also urged individuals not to give factual information to Joint Center researchers or reply to surveys taken by them.

The Center uses the black community as "guinea pigs," Rollins said, without "taking advantage of the resources offered them by the black community."

"If they want research data out of the black community they should subcontract to qualified black researchers here," he said.

The $6 million Ford Foundation grant for urban studies announced last week prompted the attack, Rollins said.

He scored the "ivory tower," saying that the chairs in urban studies to be supported by the grant should be "used for black people from this community to provide special expertise regardless of their doctoral qualifications."

"The whole thing is based on the fallacy that we got a grant from the Ford Foundation," a spokesman for the Joint Center said. "We did not."

"We are not consultants," the spokesman said. "What are we supposed to do? We are a research organization."

Rollins praised the Law School, Business School, and the School of Education for their participation in Roxbury projects.