Tuesday’s 3-hour town council meeting passed two significant resolutions to move Chestertown forward to a more racially equitable future: “Chestertown Unites Against Racism” presented by Mayor Cerino, and Ward 3 council member Ellsworth Tolliver’s “Chestertown Resolution Against Racism.” Both were passed.
After discussion and input from the community, the council regarded the two proposals as offering coinciding missions. The “Unites” proposal for a 16-month action plan to address systemic racism would embrace Tolliver’s “Resolution” as a foundational statement acknowledging Chestertown’s history as a slave port and seek an apology from the community who has benefitted from human bondage. The other four points were accepted as they stand.
Point 5 of Tolliver’s resolution regarding a Human Rights Commission, however, drew concern over its meaning. The second line, “The Human Rights Commission will be empowered to investigate and resolve allegations of discrimination in employment, housing, by town agencies and by businesses,” has been suspended from the Resolution until it is clarified and addressed in a future meeting.
Mayor Cerino quickly pointed out that the “Unites” program is a framework and as such should be viewed as open-ended with community voices encouraged to participate.
Chestertown Resolution Against Racism:
- Deeply apologizes for slavery, the slave trade and the lives, the wealth and the freedoms that were stolen from enslaved people entering our port and our town.
- Acknowledges and honors the positive contributions of African Americans in the creation and the endurance of Chestertown, Maryland.
- Strongly affirms that all the citizens of Chestertown Maryland have equal rights– equal access to goods and services in our businesses, equal rights to be treated fairly by law enforcement and the criminal justice system, equal rights to start and maintain businesses, and equal access to housing and employment.
- Proclaims that racism is a Human Rights issue.
- Commits to establishing a Human Rights Commission in Chestertown within sixty (60) days of this resolution. The Human Rights Commission will be empowered to investigate and resolve allegations of discrimination in employment, housing, by town agencies and by businesses. (Under revision) The commission will be comprised of at least fifty percent People of Color. The commission will issue an annual racial justice and equity report.
A video of the proceedings will be offered in the Spy tomorrow.