Public Comment, BTV City Council Meeting July,15, 2019

July 15, 2019
Public Comment
Burlington City Council

Support of RESOLUTION relating to Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

I speak in support of the Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Resolution.  This resolution takes the unprecedented step of adding a Standing Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee to the Burlington City Council.   The Committee “In addition to overseeing the implementation of the Equity Strategic Plan, … is tasked with the exploration of the creation of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission”.  Finally, this Resolution states that “the City of Burlington shall create a senior, full-time position, responsible for overseeing, managing, and advising other senior officials on the City’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; the position will report to the Mayor, be part of the City’s leadership team, and have citywide responsibilities and authority.”

The fact that this resolution is sponsored by eleven of the twelve City Councilors reflects that this Council not only has the ability to work together, but it reflects their shared values of fairness and justice.  I would like to give shout outs to Councilors, Dieng, Roof, Pine and Mason for being at the center of this important work.   The Mayors Office and the Office of the City Attorney worked tirelessly to cause this resolution to come to fruition this evening.  The Chief of Staff never took her eyes of a single detail, while loaded down with her normal impossible job.

In addition to the hours of work with the administration, Justice For All brought upwards of   80 people together last week at a Community Discussion called “What Equity Looks Like in Burlington”.  Notably, one of the most important recommendations of the “Equity in Administration Group” was the creation of a “paid position” in City government and a “Task Force” to address equity in Burlington.  Our next meeting is will be August 13th at the same time and location.

We have always accomplished more as a nation when we’ve worked together.  Our finest moments of progress come when all the voices are at the table, not just the ones that we agree with. We reach our collective full potential when we embrace those who are different, not fear them or try to control them. And our best ideas happen when folks that don’t agree with one another have the difficult but necessary discussions, not avoid them.  This is a proud moment for Burlington and a defining moment for the State of Vermont.  I ask that you please NOT waive the reading of this pivotal resolution.  I ask that the 2019 Racial Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resolution be read to memorialize this work and our commitment to dismantling of systemic racism in Burlington, Vermont and this nation… that we may FOR ONCE have Justice For All.

Mark Hughes
Executive Director,
Justice For All