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Looking back, looking forward

by Rob Morrison and Louisa Pashtur

A few years ago one December, when CCHRC Co-Chair Rob Morrison should have been wrapping presents or grading history exams, he instead took on the task of reviewing the two drawers stuffed with CCHRC files going back to 1978. What started out as an onerous task of reviewing and purging soon drew him in. These dusty documents were enthralling for they told the living history of our small and rather unassuming group.

How did the CCHRC come to be? It all started with a single punch thrown between a black METCO student and his white classmate at CCHS, and from this incident, hundreds of people over nearly 40 years have participated in a selfless quest to create and nourish a climate of freedom in our town. And as we mentioned in our front page letter, the Council has gratefully been a part of creating or supporting numerous town initiatives and programs, many of which are still in existence today. Were it not for the dedication of dozens of volunteers, our work could not continue.

After reading through these now dusted-off files, we have gained a greater appreciation for the contributions of our membership. It is worthwhile to highlight just a few: Norman Beecher was the Treasurer for a dozen years, and his elegant correspondence captured his passion for the work of the Council. Current board member Maura Clarke may be the first, second-generation member of the CCHRC. Maura’s mother, Mary, had been our long- time liaison with the Prison Outreach Program. Court Booth has been a steady presence for the past 30 years, selflessly aiding the Council in ways big and small. Bridget Saltonstall has been a crucial lynchpin from the 20th to the 21st century. Long time Chairperson Polly Atwood may have moved to the UK, but her impact on the Council lives on in the form of her recruitment of many current board members as well as the past three CCHRC co-chairs: Sarah Napier, Ronni Olitsky and Rob Morrison.

We thank all past Council members for your efforts, spirit and dedication to human rights; and we give thanks to the new generation of members who have joined the board in recent years. Last month, Louisa Paushter joined Rob as Co-Chair, humbly aspiring to continue the group’s traditions while moving forward in the 21st century, believing that the climate of our community is the responsibility of our citizens.

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