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Letter from the Chairs

Dear Friends of the Human Rights Council,
It has been a busy season for us – our committees have been working hard preparing for our annual events!

Our Human Rights Day Breakfast was held on Monday, December 3 at 7:30 am at the Trinitarian Congregational Church. This was the year we gave our Biannual Climate for Freedom Award to an organization in our community that fosters a climate for freedom in its work and mission. The recipient was Communities for Restorative Justice for their work to build a community-police partnership that offers restorative justice to those affected by crime. Their mission states that their process “recognizes that crime is a violation of people and relationships, not just a violation of the law.” This award is a richly deserved recognition of the importance of their mission. Executive Director Jennifer Larson-Sawin received the award and was the keynote speaker.

Our first event of 2013 was the January Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, held this year for the first time in the new Fenn School auditorium. The performers were the Willard Fifth Grade Chorus; Boston Children’s Choir; the Concord Carlisle High School Acapella Chorus, the Patriettes and the Fenn School Treble Chorus. The groups sang separately and together, their powerful voices joining with the audience to celebrate King’s life and legacy.

Unfortunately the Holy Tabernacle Women’s Choir was not able to join us this year with many of their members ill with the flu. We look forward to having them participate again next year. Special thanks to CCHRC Board member Rob Morrison and to the Fenn School for hosting us this year, and to our invaluable new emcee Charisse Gilmer.

On April 7, the Council will coordinate the Annual Holocaust Memorial on behalf of the Concord Board of Selectman. The program will feature Weston resident Dr. John Saunders, a dentist from Poland who survived Auschwitz-Birkenau. Also speaking at the ceremony will be Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland Marek Lesniewski-Laas. Cantor Rosalie Gerut will begin the memorial observance with song.

As this newsletter goes to press, the CCHRC is engaged with the Concord Carlisle High School community while the school responds to an incident of racist graffiti in the school library. In talking with Principal Peter Badalament, it became clear that the best role for the CCHRC would be its presence at assemblies and other events that are intended to respond to the incident. We want to communicate to students and faculty that their concerns are shared – and that the community is listening. Several of our Board members spent time at these assemblies, engaged as listeners rather than as active participants, believing that the school and its students are rightfully the center of this important dialogue about race.

We offer our support to the high school community, and hope that the critical conversations among students, families, teachers and administrators will continue.

Thank you for your support,

Sarah Napier and Ronni Olitsky
Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council Co-Chairs