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Year in Review: 2007

Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council: 2007

2007 was a busy year for the Concord-Carlisle Human Rights Council. Some years, we receive a lot of citizen calls and concerns but, on that front, the year was quiet. Whether because of that, or because things came together in a serendipitous way, we were busy with other initiatives during 2007, as well as our regular annual events.

On January 10th, we held an MLK, Jr. Celebration at Sanborn School, featuring the Willard Fifth grade Chorus and the Concord Middle School Chorus. The chair of the MLK committee elaborated on the theme of a journey – starting in the Middle Passage and continuing through the Slave Auction blocks, through the cotton fields, the Underground Railroad routes, the March from Selma to Montgomery, the Freedom Riders, March on Washington, the sad funeral march of Martin Luther King, culminating in the point reached that month – the installation of Deval Patrick in the Massachusetts State House as Governor.

The songs of the children blended with the theme of a journey – ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd’, for example.

On April 27, at the request of the Board of Selectmen, the Council coordinated the Town’s official Holocaust Memorial Observance. The Selectmen proclaimed the Week of April 15-22 as the Official Week of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust. Ms Marika Barnett, Holocaust survivor, was the keynote speaker, with Ms. Rosalie Gerut, daughter of survivors, providing her haunting music. The Reverend Doctor Maureen Dallison Kemeza gave the closing meditation.

The annual meeting was held on May 2nd, and the following officers were elected:

Molly Carocci and Polly Attwood – Co-chairs Kristin Allison – Clerk Steve Zippin – Treasurer Liz Clayton – Newsletter Editor (Lorell Gifford was elected Webmaster at the September meeting.)

The Council staffed a table at the July 4th Picnic in the Park, selling bottled water (with the Council Logo on the bottles) and running a beanbag toss game – a favorite with the children!

On July 24, the Council cosponsored a presentation at the Concord Public Library by China Galland about her latest book, ‘Love Cemetery: Unburying the Secret History of Slaves’. The Library room was packed, in sweltering heat, but the talk was so fascinating that nobody left early.

On September 20, in anticipation of the Councils’ upcoming 30th anniversary, the C-CHRC sponsored a showing of the powerful documentary, ‘Secret Courage: the story of Walter Suskind.’ Karen and Tim Morse, longtime Carlisle residents, and the producers of the film were there to discuss the film after the showing.

December 4th was the date for the Annual Human Rights Day Breakfast. It was held at, and hosted by the Trinitarian Congregational Church, and the Reverend John Lombard the crowd of 50-60 people. The topic, ’Uncovering Concord’s Black History’ was presented by members of a subcommittee of the Human Rights Council – Polly Attwood, Maria Madison, Sue Ryan, with Jayne Gordon, Director of Education at the Massachusetts Historical Society, and a surprise appearance of Louisa May Alcott. Together they detailed current plans for – and vision of- a ‘Black Heritage and Abolitionists’ Trail’ in Concord.

This was one of two new initiatives undertaken during 2007. The first was the establishment of a website dedicated to the Council and its activities. We aim to make it both a source of information about the Council, and an avenue for people to access Council services in the event of incidents or concerns in the community. We are fortunate to have Lorell Gifford, who volunteered to design and post the website, as well as keep it updated regularly. She has done a fabulous job – check it out at!

A committee is working on establishing a Black Heritage and Abolitionists’ Trail in Concord, featuring the history of black residents, both slave and free, from early on in Concord’s history, as well as the intense Abolitionist activity among Concord residents. The group will publish guides to the trail, as well as republish the book, ‘Concord: it’s Black History.’, originally written by Janet Jones and Barbara Elliott of Concord Public Schools. We petitioned the School Committee for permission to do so, and they voted to waive their rights to the copyright of the book. The new publication will include information on the Abolitionist activity, its social context, as well as anecdotal stories of Concord residents and Concord life during those days. We hope it will be not only a supplement to the trail guides, but also a formidable teaching tool for schools and community groups.

The Human Rights Council newsletter, ‘The Climate for Freedom’ was issued in the Spring and the Fall of 2007, and mailed to the approximately 650 member households, and can be accessed on the website by anybody interested in our activities. Log on, and check it out!

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