Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council
Polly Attwood, Chair (until June 2011)
Ronni Olitsky & Sarah Napier Co-Chairs (as of June 2011)
Mary Sheppard, Treasurer (until November 2011)
Liz Clayton, Newsletter Editor
Lorell Gifford, Webmaster
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 Martin Luther King, Jr.
Celebration held at the Willard School. The performers
were the Holy Tabernacle Women’s Ministry Choir, the
Willard Fifth Grade Chorus, Boston Children’s Choir
and the First Parish Gospel Choir. 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 31st Annual
Holocaust Memorial on behalf of the Concord Board
of Selectman. The program featured Faye Speert, a Holocaust survivor from Norway, as the speaker. Carmen
Reiss welcomed everyone on behalf of the Selectmen
and Austin Fleming delivered the ending meditation.
Approximately 100 people attended the program at
the Town House.
This summer we ran a table and a game at the Picnic n
the Park as we do every summer. Events like this are a
good way to reach out to potential new members and
to educate Concord citizens about our work.
Our annual Human Rights Day Breakfast was held on
December 5 at 7:30AM at the Trinitarian Congregational Church on Walden Street. Our former Chair and
long-time Concord Carlisle Human Rights Council
Member, Polly Attwood, and Dr. Charles Willie, were
our featured speakers this year. Polly shared her unique
perspective after 30 years of working on the Human
Rights Council and as a leader in our community. Dr.
Willie, who is the Charles William Eliot Professor of
Education, Emeritus, at Harvard’s Graduate School
of Education, and a Concord resident, spoke to the
regional and national context surrounding human rights
work in Concord. He also spoke of his early support of
the METCO Program in Concord and his role starting
the Family Friends Council, which matches Concord
and Boston residents to support students and families
participating in the METCO Program.
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 2012. 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 work
shops 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 , the Police Dept, or the Town House.