The Town Council accepted the ordinance to establish a human rights commission in Chestertown as a “first reading” during its October 5 council meeting making it a significant step toward addressing systemic racism.
Evolving out of a Resolution Against Racism submitted in August by the Council by Ward 3 Council Member Ellsworth Tolliver, the Town ordinance formalizes the Resolution’s language and awaits further input from the community during its November 2 meeting.
But what is the mission of a Human Rights Commission, and how is that mission implemented?
The Spy reached out to Arlene Lee, co-founder with Paul Tue of the Social Action Committee for Racial Justice (SOCRJ), to discuss how such an ordinance might work. She is former Executive Director of the Governor’s Office for Children, where she worked with both governmental and private agencies, focusing on policy and programs to help children and families.
Fundamentally, Lee says, an HRC is a solutions-based commission whose primary mission is to mediate discrimination issues, may they be racial, sexual orientation, gender, or other protected rights.