Mafoudia Keita ’24

Berkshire NAACP, Pittsfield, MA

This summer I had the amazing opportunity of interning with the Berkshire NAACP Race Relations and Legal Redress Committees and help solve an issue in a community so close yet so different from Williamstown. With the help of my internship advisor, Shirley Edgerton, I was able to be a part of an ongoing project that is very relevant.

Preparing my research notes on various databases.

Working with the other members on the project, I conducted research by collecting sources from various databases including the Williams Libraries. The specific project that we were charged with concerned a claim filed in nearby Pittsfield by an individual, who has undocumented status as an immigrant, stating that their employer had not been paying them for their earned wages. The report also claimed that employer threatened to call the authorities which would then have put them at risk for deportation. I gathered information on similar cases, narrowing down my search so that it would be relevant towards this case. I then met with Shirley Edgerton, committee members, local attorneys, and someone from the Berkshire Immigrant Center. Their different perspectives allowed for a brainstorming session that was holistic, looking at all of the aspects we needed to consider when deciding how to aid the claimant. With this feedback, I continued my research to include cases dealing with undocumented immigrants not receiving pay for their labor, and I found that the legalities of individual being undocumented is not always relevant if they are entitled to back pay from their employers for their labor.

As a whole, I made connections with members of the community in the Berkshires as well as with Williams alumni who I will continue to meet with to gain insight on their career paths and how they were shaped by attending Williams. This experience has also prompted me to consider taking courses in justice and law. As an advisor, Shirley Edgerton introduced me to the realm of social work and racial training while encompassing it with law. This internship could not have been possible without support from the Class of 1972, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work at an organization on causes that I am passionate about. I also give thanks to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for being the resource that I needed to find this internship.