October Update

A warm greeting to all, as we enter into the fall season. 

This week I stopped to reflect with great pride on some of our accomplishments.  We have hosted literally hundreds of community forums and events and participated in many others; conducted countless hours of deep analysis; built coalitions and alliances to move unprecedented policy, and advanced the narrative to a discussion on systemic racism across all systems (housing, education, employment, etc.…). What we did next was a game changer! In 2017, Act 54 resulted in the creation of a racial disparities justice system panel (still working).  It also produced a task force, which cited systemic racism as the as the cause for disparities in all systems. Act 9 in 2018 created the position of a Statewide Executive Director of Racial Equity and associated panel, both charged with “mitigating systemic racism”.

Our work has recently turned to Burlington where we have had numerous outreach and education events, including Game On, film viewings and the ongoing “Equity Series”.  JFA was instrumental in the passage of a Burlington Resolution that requires the BPD to provide use of force data to the Police Commission on an annual basis.  We also recommended and provided consultation on the passage of a Burlington Resolution that established the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Standing Committee as well as a DEI Director that reports to the Mayor.

In coordination with the Racial Justice Alliance we co-hosted the First Annual First African Landing Vermont Commemoration where the new Racial Equity Executive Director Delivered a Proclamation from the Governor, decreeing that the date be recognized annually.  The event was a great success.  We will continue to explore opportunities to offer outreach events that support the 400 Years of African American History Commission’s mission to educate community on the resilience and contributions of African Americans.

There has been good progress in growing the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance (VRJA), an alliance founded by JFA for the purpose of legislative work.  In preparation for the upcoming legislative session I am working in coordination with VRJA members and legislators to ensure our success.  You can see updates on the VRJA, including the  numerous forums and panels that are being scheduled to discuss systemic racism and poverty, use of force, the constitutional amendment, reparations and more here. It is our hope that output from these sessions will inform the legislative process.  Beyond the legislative agenda are numerous other bills that we are monitoring

In 2014, I began to become woke as I heard the names of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Lequan McDonald, Tamir Rice and many others.  I committed to do something meaningful and impactful to address the problem.  Over the past five years we have made an impact in Vermont and our work is being modeled in other states.  As the work of Justice For All has been increasingly focusing on addressing the root causes and impacts of systemic racism and poverty, we’re changing.  We’ll tell you about our new direction at our Birthday Party on the 19th.  Thank you for supporting this vitally important work in such a time as this.  We wouldn’t be able to do it, were it not for the many folks like you who hold us up and show up for the work. Your gifts provide immediate impact on this work  Please click button below to securely provide your financial support. 

Respectfully,

Mark Hughes
Executive Director
Justice For All

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Thanks for giving

The work that we are doing has a sense of urgency and we need your money to make it happen. You can read here about all of the important work that we are doing but click below to securely and immediately put your money to work as we continue our focus on eliminating systemic racism and addressing racial equity.

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Thank you for supporting this vitally important work in such a time as this.  We wouldn’t be able to do it, were it not for the many folks like you who hold us up and show up for the work. Your gifts provide immediate impact on this work.  Please click button below to securely provide your financial support. 

Click Here To Provide a Gift

We founded the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance to support the work of the legislative agenda. Look here to see the work we are doing there.

…We’ll see you at the Party

The JFA Birthday Party Facebook Event is here

Click Here To Provide a Gift

W.E.L.L. Update August 2, 2019

Happy August

All here is the fourth in a series of updates on What Equity Looks Like.  If you have missed any of the updates, you can see them on our site, at www.justiceforallvt.org or on the site of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance, at www.vtracialjusticealliance.wordpress.com.  In case you missed it, right around the corner is “What We Are Doing About Equity in Burlington”, August 13th from 7:00 till 9:00pm.  This is an action-oriented meeting.  Please place this on your calendar.

News Flash

Xusana Davis, the Racial Equity Executive Director, appointed as a result of the legislative mandate of Act 9 (2018) is completing her first week on the job.  This is the position that Beth Fastiggi spoke of when she briefed us at the W.E.L.L. meeting last month.  Our hope is to invite Xusana to one of our meetings at some point in the near future.

Equity Highlight

Equity in Affordable Housing

Our Affordable Housing Group reported out that the lack of affordable housing is a “serious national and local issue” that impacts a large percentage of the population.  They made the assumption that “racism is a block for people accessing housing”.  Finally it was agreed that there is a definite connection to wages and the so-called affordable housing that does exist is largely of poor quality.  Licensing the landlords to improve housing quality and implementing progressive taxation based on property value were amongst the suggested solutions that the group fleshed out. With what they believed to be as many as 85% of voters holding this issue as a priority, this work is sure to be ongoing.  Shout out to the Affordable Housing Group for starting this work.

Upcoming Events

Here are a few things that are happening between now and our next meeting.  Click on the links for times and locations.


First African Landing Vermont
 
On August 24th, from 1:00 till 4:00 PM, at North End Studios, Studio A, 294 N. Winooski Ave., Burlington we will commemorate First African Landing Day. This commemoration serves to recognize the 400th anniversary of the landing of the first enslaved Africans in English-occupied North America at Point Comfort in 1619. It will feature a commemorative ceremony, food, storytelling, dance, drumming, musical performances, and more. This First African Landing Commemorative Day will offer an opportunity for those who are interested in learning about the heritage, struggles and triumphs of the first Africans who were brought to the shores of what would become the United States.  Find out how you can become a supporter or sponsor or register for the commemoration here.

Please Help us Continue This Work 

We are free conduct outreach and education and provide advocacy but providing them is not free.  Can you help us with the work that we are doing?  Your small donation has an immediate impact on the vitality of this important work.  Provide a quick, secure contribution here.
CLICK here!

Would you like to be a  continuing supporter to this important work that we have ahead of us? 
CLICK here!

Justice For All pursues racial justice within Vermont’s criminal justice system through advocacy, education, and relationship-building.    Would you like to Become a member?

W.E.L.L. Update July 26, 2019

 Hello all,

Here is your weekly What Equity Looks Like (W.E.L.L.) in Burlington update.

Our next meeting, “What You Are Doing About Equity in Burlington” will be August 13th from 7:00 till 9:00pm.  This is an action-oriented meeting.  Please place this on your calendar.  The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance Meeting will precede this meeting (5:00pm), at the same location.  As indicated last week, we are providing weekly highlights from the initial W.E.L.L. breakout sessions.

Todays highlight is the Justice System. 

Equity Highlight

Equity in the Justice System

The breakout group on the justice system was the liveliest of our group discussions in our W.E.L.L. session on July 9th. The need to collect race data system wide and establish an independent complaint system was among the suggestions discussed amongst the group.  Community members also suggested the need to increasingly have those difficult (race related) conversations and stressed the importance of attending Police Commission meetings.   Some other topics included decriminalizing minor offenses and working to change policing culture and the manner in which they train. Thanks to the W.E.L.L. Justice System Group for their work.  We’ll continue to track this work and keep you updated.   

I chatted with our Chief of Police, Brandon del Pozo, today on JFA TV about what equity looks like in BPD.  The interview will be released sometime next week on Channel 17.  Please take the time to find the conversation.

Are you interested in hanging out and playing board games?  We do it every 4th Sunday, from 3:00pm till 6:00pm.  Will we see you on July 28?  Check herefor details.  Also Our monthly Film Screening happens on the 2nd Sunday, every month from 3:00 till 6:00pm.  Come join us on August 11th as we share “Against All Odds” as we continue to do the work at the intersection of systemic racism and poverty.

Don’t forget to provide feedback on your experience at the W.E.L.L. event July 9th

Finally, can you help us with the work that we are doing?  Your small donation has an immediate impact on the vitality of this important work.  Provide a quick, secure contribution here: CLICK here and help us do the work

 Would you like to be a  continuing supporter to this important work that we have ahead of us? 
CLICK here!

Justice For All pursues racial justice within Vermont’s criminal justice system through advocacy, education, and relationship-building.    Would you like to Become a member?

W.E.L.L. Update July 19, 2019

 Hello all,

Here is your weekly What Equity Looks Like (W.E.L.L.) in Burlington update. 

The Racial Equity Resolution was passed by City Council on Monday, July 15th. The Resolution creates a standing Committee and a full time position (that reports to the Mayor) for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This is what equity looks like!

Our next meeting, “What We Are Doing About Equity in Burlington” will be August 13th from 7:00 till 9:00pm.  This is an action-oriented meeting.  Please place this on your calendar.  As indicated last week, we are providing weekly highlights from the initial W.E.L.L. breakout sessions. Todays highlight is on education.

Equity Highlight

Equity on Education 

A concern reported by the breakout group on education was that of a need for effective guidance and counseling processes.  Here, our team spoke in terms of a “high-school-to-college process” and stressed the importance of financial aid, role models and follow-up polices.  Progressive administrative follow-up was proposed as an important area to be addressed.  This included post college professional development; the tracking of student transitional developments; employer hiring and termination policy reviews and effective inclusion policies. Finally the group indicated a need to acknowledge a growing diverse community.  This was discussed in terms of empathy for culture mix; real time community diversity, and; community involvement through mentorship programs.  Thanks to the W.E.L.L. Education group for their work.  We’ll continue to track this work and keep you updated.   

I chatted with Henri Sparks, Director of Equity and Safe Inclusive Schools on with the Burlington School District on JFA TV, on W.E.L.L..  You can find that interview here

Interested in hanging out and playing board games with community members on a Sunday afternoon?  Game on!  Check here for details.

Don’t forget to provide feedback on your experience at the W.E.L.L. event July 9th. This helps us to course correct and hopefully get it right.  If you can’t do anything else, please consider this as a contribution to the cause.

Can you help us with the work that we are doing?  Your small donation has an immediate impact on the vitality of this important work.  Provide a quick, secure contribution here: CLICK here and help us do the work

 Would you like to be a  continuing supporter to this important work that we have ahead of us? 
CLICK here!

Justice For All pursues racial justice within Vermont’s criminal justice system through advocacy, education, and relationship-building.    Would you like to Become a member?

W.E.L.L. Updates July 12, 2019

Thanks to those who were able to join us at “What Equity Looks Like in Burlington”. 

The meeting was overwhelmingly productive and we’re excited about continuing the discussion.   If you were able to attend, please provide some feedback on your experience?  This is important to enable us achieve desired outcomes.  This is something that you can do to affect change in addressing equity in Burlington.

Secondly our next meeting, “What We Are Doing About Equity in Burlington” will be August 13th from 7:00 till 9:00pm.  This is an action-oriented meeting.  Please place this on your calendar.  Expect weekly highlights, leading up to this meeting.  Here’s todays highlight: 

Equity Highlight

Equity in City Administration

Our City Administration Group decided that three of the most important things that WE can do to address equity in City administration is to identify active community spaces (to facilitate outreach); create a position in the City government to review equity, and; attend City Council Meetings and hold officials accountable for achieving equity goals.  City Administration Team, thank you for your concise output from your discussion.

Here is a HUGE opportunity to show up as a community and take responsibility for what equity looks like!

There will be a meeting of the full City Council on Monday, July 15th at 7:00pm.  The Council will be taking up a Resolution that creates a standing Committee and a full time position (that reports to the Mayor) for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.  Take a look at the Resolution, reach out to your City Councilor and show up to voice your opinion and/or concerns.  This is what equity looks like!

Don’t forget about the film viewing (Slavery by Another Name), this Sunday, the 14th of July and the Justice For All Organizing Meeting on Wednesday, the 17th of July.  Both events will be at the First Congregational Church, 38 S. Winooski Ave., Burlington.

We are free conduct outreach and education and provide advocacy but providing them is not free.  Can you help us with the work that we are doing?  Your small donation has an immediate impact on the vitality of this important work.  Provide a quick, secure contribution here: CLICK here and help us do the work

Would you like to be a  continuing supporter to this important work that we have ahead of us? 
CLICK here!

Justice For All pursues racial justice within Vermont’s criminal justice system through advocacy, education, and relationship-building.    Would you like to Become a member?


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

Update: What Equity Looks Like In Burlington (with Action Items)

The “What Equity Looks Like in Burlington” meeting was overwhelmingly productive and we’re excited about continuing the discussion.   First, would you mind providing some feedback on your experience?  This is important to enable us achieve desired outcomes.  This is something that you can do to affect change in addressing equity in Burlington.

Secondly our next meeting, “What We Are Doing About Equity in Burlington” will be August 13th from 7:00 till 9:00pm.  This is an action-oriented meeting.  Please place this on your calendar.  Expect weekly highlights, leading up to this meeting.  Here’s todays highlight: 

Equity Highlight

Equity in City Administration

Our City Administration Group decided that three of the most important things that WE can do to address equity in City administration is to identify active community spaces (to facilitate outreach); create a position in the City government to review equity, and; attend City Council Meetings and hold officials accountable for achieving equity goals.  City Administration Team, thank you for your concise output from your discussion.

Here is a HUGE opportunity to show up as a community and take responsibility for what equity looks like!

There will be a meeting of the full City Council on Monday, July 15th at 7:00pm.  The Council will be taking up a Resolution that creates a standing Committee and a full time position (that reports to the Mayor) for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.  Take a look at the Resolution, reach out to your City Councilor and show up to voice your opinion and/or concerns.  This is what equity looks like!

Don’t forget about the film viewing (Slavery by Another Name), this Sunday, the 14th of July and the Justice For All Organizing Meeting on Wednesday, the 17th of July.  Both events will be at the First Congregational Church, 38 S. Winooski Ave., Burlington.

Can you help us with the work that we are doing?  Your small donation has an immediate impact on the vitality of this important work.  Support this work because the proven results that Justice For All consistently delivers affects YOU!  Provide a quick, secure contribution here:

CLICK here and help us do the work

 Would you like to be a  continuing supporter to this important work that we have ahead of us? 
CLICK here!

Justice For All pursues racial justice within Vermont’s criminal justice system through advocacy, education, and relationship-building.   

Would you like to Become a member?

Community Discusion and Film Viewing

All,

Now is the time to show up with your perspective.  This is where we tell the elected and appointed folks what we expect them to do to ensure that black and brown folks are not just welcome but thrive and prosper in the Greater Burlington area.

The State Racial Equity Director has been seated; the Mayor has committed to an Equity Officer, reporting to him, and; the City Council is considering a Resolution, creating a Standing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.  This is an opportunity to tell them what equity looks like in Burlington.

Please show up and pass this along.  The Mayor and City Council are planning to advance proposals later, in July.  Let’s not let them move forward without us.

https://www.facebook.com/events/465094444306582/

Listening invitations
Mayor Weinberger. Confirmed
Chief Del Pozo. Confirmed
Superintendent Obeng. Invited  What Equity Looks Like kin Burlington:  As Goes Burlington…

Tuesday, July 9th 6:30 till 8:30
First Congregational Church
38 S. Winooski Ave, Burlington

There is lots of talk from elected officials about the necessity for Vermont to grow its economy. It can only do so with a dramatic change of the racial demographics of the State. We all know that this will not be sustainable until we address factors contributing to the systemic nature of racism in the State. The population and race demographics of Burlington scream the fact that “as goes Burlington, so goes Vermont. This is a community conversation about that.

Who are we, as City? 
Who do we hope to become? 
How will we get there?

These are some of the questions that many are asking. This strategic session will give us an opportunity to wrestle with some of these questions and discuss some solutions. 
This will be a forum to hear from the community on matters of equity, diversity and inclusion. This is your opportunity to be heard. Bring your voices.
 We’ll see you there!

Can you help us with the work that we are doing?  Your small donation has an immediate impact on the vitality of this important work.  Support this work because the proven results that Justice For All consistently delivers affects YOU!  Provide a quick, secure contribution here.

Choose an amount that works for you and CLICK HERE.  

We sure do appreciate it!
Thank you!

Film Viewing 

Slavery by Another Name

First Congregational Church
38 S. Winooski Ave, Burlington

On Sunday, July 14th, at 3:00 pm we will be viewing Slavery by Another Name.”  Slavery By Another Name is a 90-minute documentary that challenges one of Americans’ most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery in this country ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. The film tells how even as chattel slavery came to an end in the South in 1865, thousands of African Americans were pulled back into forced labor with shocking force and brutality. It was a system in which men, often guilty of no crime at all, were arrested, compelled to work without pay, repeatedly bought and sold, and coerced to do the bidding of masters. Tolerated by both the North and South, forced labor lasted well into the 20th century.

For most Americans this is entirely new history. Slavery by Another Name gives voice to the largely forgotten victims and perpetrators of forced labor and features their descendants living today.  There will be a brief overview of PR.2, the current proposal addressing slavery in the Vermont constitution.  JFA provides community film viewings monthly on the 2nd Sunday. 

Help us get the work done here:

CLICK here and help us do the work

 Would you like to be a  continuing supporter to this important work that we have ahead of us? 
CLICK HERE!

Justice For All pursues racial justice within Vermont’s criminal justice system through advocacy, education, and relationship-building.   
Would you like to Become a member?

Happy Juneteenth Day

Happy Juneteenth Day!

The US House of Representatives has taken up H.40, a bill that would create a commission to develop proposals to address the lingering effects of slavery and consider a “national apology” for the harm it has caused.

Any discussion about money only distracts us from the lakes of blood and mountains of bodies that continue to mount to this day, as some would have us believe that this all ended 150 years ago and it has nothing to do with us. The discussion is futile because our treasuries do not contain enough to make right what has been made wrong. Vermont policy makers, the best that you can do is to pass H.478 so we can get on with the work.

Vermont H.478 (modeled after H.40) was taken up in House Government Operations on March 21st, 2019. No testimony has been taken. This debate is about addressing the social, emotional, spiritual and economic impacts caused by a nation that has to this day used slavery to build and sustain political and economic power.

It is about acknowledging the self correcting nature of this oppression with the Constitutionalization of prison slavery through the 13th amendment; Commissioning convict leasing; Instituting sharecropping; legalizing segregation, promoting Jim Crow, codifying redlining, limiting the New Deal and GI Bill to whites; criminalizing the Civil Rights movement; policing and incarcerating of black folks disproportionately, deconstructing the Voting Rights Act and much, much more.

And please, don’t ask another black person if we think that you should give us money.