June 18, 2021
Statement from Town Manager Stephen Crane on Juneteenth
Yesterday, President Biden signed a new bill making June thenth a federal holiday after Congress overwhelmingly approved it. Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. While the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865, two and a half years later, that Union soldiers brought the news to Galveston Texas that the Civil War was over and that enslaved people were now free.
Efforts to have Juneteenth recognized as a holiday go back many years; when the law was passed, the congress showed that it is a clear sign of the social and political change that we are experiencing. Although this important holiday is recognized as an official federal holiday, a significant milestone on our journey to greater diversity, justice and inclusion, maintaining progress requires constant effort and attention. We must continue to deal with the social, economic and political factors that are holding back progress. We must continue to look to the next major milestone and strive to achieve it.
As a freshman to college 30 years ago, I reached my first major milestone in my journey when I was a founding member of a student group focused on what was then known as multiculturalism. The experience was both formative because I was painfully unaware of the widespread struggle for justice and inclusion, and it was transformative because I learned to embrace diversity and that the idea of ”we are all equal” is about our humanity, not about our cultures and values. I have carried these lessons with me since then and am fortunate to play a small role in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in Concord.
Our community has a rich African American history that may not be as well known as our literary or revolutionary history, but their contributions are seen and felt daily by Concordians. Families who made significant contributions include names such as Thomas and Jennie Dugan, Caesar Robbins, a Revolutionary War patriot and namesake of Robbins House in Concord, and Brister Freeman, namesake of Brister’s Hill, to name a few. Concord continues on its path, like much of the United States, to better recognize its African American history and to honor the Juniteenth in Concord is a major milestone on this path.
The city is celebrating Juniteenth with a series of social media posts, special tours of the Concord Visitor Center, and with support from Concord’s resource and museum of African American history, Robbins House. Due to the city rules and collective agreements, municipal operations will continue as usual on Friday, June 18, and although Saturday, June 19 is now a public holiday, certain operations will continue on that day (e.g. public safety, Beede Center / White Pond / Emerson Pool, Visitor’s Center) as usual on many other public holidays.
In addition to adhering to Juneteenth, we strive to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion with the express goals and objectives of increasing leadership and employee inclusion, reducing barriers to belonging and full justice, better approaching and creating a system and one clear roadmap and expanded capabilities. The initial stages of the likely ongoing effort are as follows:
A leadership assessment, consisting of one-on-one interviews with each member of the senior management team and other designated individuals, will help us determine our readiness, strength, gaps and recommendations for next steps and considerations towards full equity and inclusion.
· An educational and learning component for the senior management team and other designated individuals to strengthen the knowledge base on diversity, equity and inclusion and improve inclusive leadership skills.
· The development of a strategic roadmap to achieve and maximize the goals of diversity, equality and inclusion.
· Recommend and advise on key policies, procedures and practices to reduce or eliminate prejudice in key areas: improving recruitment, developing and retaining talent, and strengthening communication around DEI.
Finally, as part of both the above work and future June 10th celebrations, the city will be working to revise its vacation policies to provide a more inclusive workplace that allows employees to celebrate holidays that are important to them.
This press release was prepared by the City of Concord. The views expressed here are your own.