Usually at this time of year we have already mailed out our spring newsletter and are happily gearing up for summer. This year, as we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic and a national racial up-heaval, things feel different, and we have decided to put a version of our newsletter online rather than do our usual mailing.

We are all grappling with the changes we are confronting – trying to find our “new normal” – which is why it has become even more important to come together at the most local level. That is where Human Rights for everyone begins – in our hometowns. This is where you can see and feel the difference of what it means to be a citizen of a community.

Living in this Covid-19 pandemic has been disruptive for us all and has brought to light the many inequi-ties in our country. The killing of unarmed black people by law enforcement in the US is unconscionable and deserving of the outrage that has taken over our country, and indeed the world.

In Concord, the Council is grateful to have a very strong relationship with our police chief, Chief Joe O’Connor. In fact, he is a past recipient of our Climate for Freedom award. Chief O’Connor is well aware of the need to continually educate his police force and address issues that arise. The CCHRC has not had the opportunity to work as much with Carlisle Police Chief John Fisher, and we pledge to foster that relationship in 2020.

We are lucky to live in towns that are very active and aware of social justice issues. There have been peaceful protests in Concord, organized by Concord Carlisle High School’s Intersections Club, Concord Indivisible and The Robbins House to support Black Lives Matter, and to stand against police brutality and systemic racism. In June, the town of Carlisle hosted a virtual Race Amity Day celebration as part of nation-wide event. The purpose of Race Amity is to foster friendship that will help heal and change the world. Carlisle also held a peace vigil in the town center.

We encourage you to become involved if you are able. It is important to stay safe but it is also important to stay involved locally and nationally. If you can’t get out and vote in person, get an absentee ballot. Now more than ever, we must make sure our voices are heard. Don’t let others speak for you. The time to stand up for what you believe is right is now.

Rather than stepping back, our communities must step up because we all know that helping others helps us all. As individuals we are only as strong as our greater community.