NORTH ADAMS, MASS. —MCLA will present a virtual conversation with Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 3. Part of MCLA’s Lavender Lecture series, Morse will share his story with viewers, with moderation by MCLA Assistant Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work Dr. Travis Beaver.
This lecture is free and open to the public; members of the community can register at https://bit.ly/AlexMorse21.
This lecture is made possible through the generosity of alumni and friends who contribute annually to The Lavender Fund.
Launched in 2019, The Lavender Fund raises annual support to bring LGBTQIA+ community speakers to campus, send students to attend LGBTQIA+ conferences, and sponsors student trips to historic and influential locations associated with the LGBTQIA+ civil rights movement. This first-of-its-kind funding enhances existing initiatives at MCLA to ensure that LGBTQIA+ student life on campus is enriched and protected.
About Alex Morse
Alex’s story starts in a Holyoke housing project where his parents met and fell in love. Both his mother and father grew up in poverty. Alex’s parents started a family as teenagers and neither had a chance to attend college. They worked tirelessly with what they had, struggling from job to low-wage job on public assistance in public housing. Over time they were able to make their way into the working class. Now 33 years down the road, Alex’s father heads to the same meatpacking company in Springfield every day of the week for work. And Alex still recalls the neighborhood family daycare his mom ran at his childhood home.
Alex’s parents worked hard to provide opportunities for their children — Alex and his two older brothers — that they didn’t have. Alex’s gratitude for his parents, and for the city of Holyoke, led to his passion for public service. The gratitude he has to his parents, and to Holyoke, became a passion for public service. At 16, Alex came out to his parents, and their response of unconditional love and support gave him the courage to bring his whole self into this life, and into this work.
His interest in public service brought him to Brown University and led him to become the first member of his family to earn a college degree. While a student, he spent his summers in Holyoke, coming back to his hometown to serve under-resourced youth like himself learn skills for future success. Back at school, Alex’s vision for organizing and helping his hometown only grew deeper. He announced his candidacy for mayor of Holyoke at age 21, while still a senior at Brown. He has served as Holyoke’s mayor since 2012, winning 4 elections during his time in City Hall. Elected at 22, Alex is the youngest and first openly gay mayor in the history of the city of Holyoke.
Mayor Morse has been a lecturer in Urban Government and Politics at UMASS Amherst since 2014. His teaching seeks to instill in his students a deep belief in democracy and the capacity of politics to make communities stronger, more prosperous, and more just.