Committee on Equity for Essex Newsletter May/June 2021
Greg Duggan, Jill Evans, Ron Hoague, Marguerite Ladd, Erin Maguire, Owiso Makuku, Evan Teich
The Committee on Equity for Essex is dedicated to redistributing decision-making, resources, and power into our community to ensure the voices of those who have been historically marginalized are centered. This is an ongoing effort and we continue to seek feedback as we progress. Contact Marguerite Ladd at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The committee has highlighted a few stories and updates from our work over the past couple of months.
Essex Juneteenth Celebration On June 19, 2021, Essex will stage its 1st Juneteenth celebration. The event is being planned collaboratively by the Essex Safety, Policing and Racial Justice Task Force and VIEW (Voices for Inclusion in Essex and Westford, and will be held from 11am to 1pm at the pavilion of the Brownell Library at 5 Corners, celebrating the contributions of African Americans to life as we know it in the United States. US culture would not be as great, as colorful or as distinct without the contributions of people who came over here in chains and their descendants. Saturday, June 19th will be an opportunity to honor these varied and distinguished contributions to the world. The event will highlight excerpts and work of African American inventors, musicians, poets, orators and authors. We expect to schedule some readings, but it will largely be an interactive event in which the public will be invited to take part.
For those unfamiliar with the history of the day, Juneteenth is celebrated in commemoration of June 19, 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston, Texas were informed of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862 and the April 9, 1865 end of the Civil War, when Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. Juneteenth has been celebrated in Texas since June 19, 1866 and, in 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday. Forty-seven states and the District of Columbia now recognize Juneteenth as a state or ceremonial holiday.
Juneteenth is also known as: Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, Emancipation Day
Light refreshments will be served.
Brownell Library Panel Discussion
Representatives from the Brownell Library, the police department, school district, community development and the restorative justice programs came together for a stakeholder's panel discussion about initiatives in the Essex community and related the work to themes of the Vermont Reads book The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Highlighted themes include: identity, stereotypes, racism, justice, activism, community and the cyclical nature of crime and poverty. Representatives included Wendy Hysko - Brownell Library Director and panel moderator, Restorative Justice Panel Coordinator Susanna Weller - Essex Community Justice Center,Interim Essex Community Development Director Owiso Makuku - Essex Town Sergeant John Dunn - Essex Police Department Erin Maguire - Director of Equity and Inclusion and Student Support Services - Essex Westford School District. It was inspiring to hear what is going on in different areas! The recording of the discussion can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgRzB2VMipo
Safety, Policing and Racial Justice Task Force Update
The Safety, Policing and Racial Justice Task Force convened four times since the last update (on 4/21/21, 5/5/21,5/19/21 and 6/2/21) The convenings were facilitated by Sue McCormack and Tabitha Moore of Creative Discourse.
The Task Force has divided into two subcommittees that will meet throughout the summer. The larger Task Force plans to reconvene in September. The two subcommittees are 1) Policing and 2) Municipal Investments in Equity & Representative Leadership.
A Vison Statement for the Task Force has now been created.
“Essex and Essex Junction are racially and socially equitable, welcoming and engaged communities where all can thrive because community members and leaders hold each other accountable to ensure a safe, supportive and just environment.”
EPD budget presentation here: https://www.essexvt.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/1513
This was an overview presentation given to the Racial Justice and Equity Task Force on May 19, 2021 that compares EPD staffing and expenditures to surrounding departments, summarizes the various areas of the department budget, and provides a current staffing chart.
Working with Essex Westford School District
The Essex Westford School District School Board continues to center on equity through a review of a new Equity Policy being considered for passage. The policy has drawn a great deal of community interest and the board has created an opportunity for an extended public to be heard during a special meeting to provide space for community comments related to the Equity Policy among other topics. The policy was developed through a board subcommittee in partnership with affinity groups who provided the language for the policy through the lens of impact for those most impacted by equity work. In addition, Director of Equity & Inclusion, Erin Maguire, will hold a community education session on June 8th to provide information about EWSD and their forward movement as outlined in the Equity Plan as well as more about the "Why" of equity in education.