Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council
Co-Chairs: Ronni Olitsky and Rob Morrison
Treasurer: Libby Kurten
Newsletter Editor: Liz Clayton
Webmaster: Lorell Gifford
Formally established in 1979 as a 501c3, the Council has a membership of approximately 675 households in the Concord-Carlisle community, with an Executive Board that meets monthly.
The first event of our year was the January Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration held for the first time at the Fenn School. The performers were the Fenn School Treble Chorus, the Willard Fifth Grade Chorus, Boston Children’s Choir and the CCHS Patriettes Acapella Chorus. The groups sang separately and together, their powerful voices joining with the audience to celebrate King’s life and legacy.
In April, the Council coordinated the Annual Holocaust Memorial on behalf of the Concord Board of Selectman. The program featured Dr. John Saunders, a holocaust survivor and The Hon. Consul of the Republic of Poland, Marek Lesniewski-Laas. Cantor Rosalie Gerut began the memorial observance with song.
Our annual Human Rights Day Breakfast was held on Monday, December 6 at Temple Kerem Shalom. Our guest speaker was Tete Cobblah. Tete is part of the Arts department at The Fenn School and is the pioneer of the Fenn Diversity Program, having built a multi-faceted diversity program from scratch that explores new territory while remaining centered in the culture of kindness and respect at the core. He was an incredible storyteller and discussed past and current diversity issues both in and out of our schools.
Apart from these annual events, sub-committees of the Council have been busy. Danae Laura, Charisse Gilmer, and Cherisa Hernandez have led efforts to establish a METCO Scholarship Fund in memory of Abdirauf Abdullahi, a METCO CCHS graduate who was shot to death in a random shooting just weeks before heading off to college. The aim is to raise $20,000 for an endowment to be put into the CCHS Scholarship Fund, and used for METCO students who gain entry to college. In 2011, they reached their $10,000 mark and they plan to apply for a matching grant in 2013. See more at www.theabbyfund.org
We are also beginning to plan what we hope will be a series of workshops in conjunction with the Concord Police Department and local business leaders with a focus on “cultural proficiency.” The goal of the workshops will be to critically examine how we—people of varied cultural backgrounds who live and work in, or visit, Concord–interact with each other in a variety of settings. We are in the early planning stages of this project, but are excited about its potential.
In addition to the above activities, the Council has been involved in working with local residents about rights, violations, hate crimes and issues of discrimination. We are not professional mediators, but act as a resource for the community in finding mediators, sensitivity training, legal advice, etc. We are in close touch with the Police Department, the schools, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and do not hesitate to call in experts when we receive complaints from the public. We take no action without thoughtful consideration and discussion with those victimized, as well as the advice of police or other concerned groups.
We can be reached by email through our website cchumanrights.org or through the Police Department, or the Town House.