Southeastern names school board’s first black chair

EASTON — Tony Branch, the first African American School Board Chair of the Southeast, knows what it’s like to be a homeless teenager navigating the world.

But he somehow found hope in his despair and is now using his platform to support children in local communities.

At age 14, attending Boston Public School was heaven for Branch.

Being at school gave her a warm, safe place for several hours each day.

But once the evening rolled around, Branch was on the hunt for dinner and occasionally ate other students’ McDonald’s leftovers.

“At that age it was safer to eat after a child than an adult, less disease,” said Branch, 55, of Brockton.

Tony Branch is the first African-American chairman of the Southeastern Regional School Committee on Friday, January 28, 2022.

Eventually Branch was rescued from homelessness and lived with his aunt in Roxbury, and his life took a new direction.

Branch began investing his time heavily in faith-based education and became a minister in 1983 at the age of 16.

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Branch then attended Roxbury Community College in 1984, while later formalizing his religious education at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which gave him the ability to grow mentally and see beyond the horizon, he said. -he declares.

Her life took a dramatic turn after 12-year-old Darlene Tiffany Moore was murdered in 1988 on Humboldt Avenue in Roxbury, the victim of stray bullets fired by conflicted drug dealers.

Bishop Tony Branch addressed the crowd at the Juneteenth event hosted by the Harambee Learning and Cultural Center at Brockton City Hall on Saturday, June 19, 2021.

The killing sparked a response from Branch and his community. It sparked the inner activist in Branch who had been hiding inside for all those years, he said.

From that day on, Branch knew he had to do something. He co-founded CAP (Community Action Patrol) and Boston Communities of Color. He received a Non-Lawyer Award from the National Lawyers Guild for teaching the illegalities of Boston police’s “Stop and Frisk” policy to urban youth.

The purpose of the community patrol was to challenge young people and let perpetrators know that gun violence is unacceptable in this neighborhood, Branch said.

Tony Branch is the first African-American chairman of the Southeastern Regional School Committee on Friday, January 28, 2022.

Fast forward to today and Branch is still a tenacious activist working on issues such as food insecurity, gun violence, youth homelessness prevention and affordable housing in the area.

Branch was named a member of the School Committee for the Southeast Regional School District in 2016 and has been elected twice. He was elected but the committee as the new president in November 2021.

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Located in Easton, South East Regional Vocational Technical High School serves Brockton, East Bridgewater, Easton, Foxboro, Mansfield, Norton, Sharon, Stoughton and West Bridgewater.

Branch said he is focused on updating school policy and monitoring the school district.

Southeast Regional Superintendent Luis Lopes, left, and School Committee Vice Chairman Tony Branch respond Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021 to questions from football players and their parents about why the college football season has been suspended.

Branch wants to help the nine communities he serves overseas as the Southeast Region School Committee Chair increase their economic power and effectively address food insecurity, youth empowerment, and poverty. violence, he said.

Branch is currently making those goals a reality by working with like-minded civic leaders, he said.

Branch is chair of the Brockton Commission on Diversity; vice-president and board member of Haitian Community Partners; board member of the Cape Verdean Association of Brockton; board member of the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending (MAAPL); and First Vice President of the Brockton Area NAACP Branch.

The work does not stop there. Branch is also a co-host of StandUP Strong, a radio show on WVBF, 1530 AM and 99.7 FM and is the producer and host of the NAACP TV Forum, Brockton Community Access, on Xfinity Channel 9. And in January, Branch a was named to Governor Charlie Baker’s Federal Funds Fairness and Accountability Review Committee overseeing $2.55 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

Branch has devoted decades of work to improving his community and enriching the lives of future generations.

“We need to build a society where we realize that race is non-existent and that we are united by a common humanity, and that is to be neighbors to each other to live our lives as if we were born brothers and sisters of the same parents. We are universally one people,” Branch said.

Alisha Saint-Ciel, company staff reporter, can be reached by email at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter at @alishaspeakss. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.

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