PREAMBLE: Concord, Massachusetts has historical reasons for being concerned in the year 1978 about the present climate of freedom in the town. Two centuries ago it was the leading center of resistance in the struggle for independence. Later, as America’s literary capital, it was a wellspring of spiritual expression in a young nation. Concord was a stop on the Underground Railroad and host to John Brown. Its first school superintendent, Bronson Alcott, came here after dismissal in Boston as a schoolmaster because he refused to expel a black student from his classes. But Concord has not always been hospitable to racial and ethnic minorities. As the agricultural village changed to a substantial suburb of an industrial region, Concord became a community of many different peoples and creeds. Distinctions bred tensions that continue to be evident, occasionally in open expressions of contempt for some fellow citizens. Yet the town is proud to welcome thousands of tourists to that sacred shrine of democracy, the North Bridge. The contradiction is self-evident. If Concord is to be true to its heritage, there must be renewed respect for all its citizens and for all who visit here. Concord must not only be the place ‘where it all began’ but where it all continues, where the flame of democracy burns with a special brightness in a world all too often darkened by institutionalized exclusion of racial, ethnic, and religious groups.

WE THEREFORE DECLARE that the spirit of Concord is implicit in the very name of this town, which is an agreed acceptance on equal terms of all people within its boundaries at all times and with no exceptions whatsoever. We further declare it to be the solemn duty of all citizens of Concord to nurture in their children the precious openness of heart that is the source of all toleration. And we pledge to ourselves to live and work in the spirit of neighborliness upon which this community was founded three centuries ago.

Robert W. Minton
October 14, 1978