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The original item was published from 6/18/2021 12:48:57 PM to 6/26/2021 6:00:05 PM.

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Posted on: June 18, 2021

[ARCHIVED] Statement of Town Manager Stephen Crane on Juneteenth

Statement of Town Manager Stephen Crane on Juneteenth


Yesterday, President Biden signed a new law making Juneteenth a federal holiday after Congress overwhelmingly approved it.  Juneteenth, celebrated on the 19th of June, celebrates the ending of slavery in the United States. While the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed on January 1st, 1863, it wasn’t until June 19th, 1865, two and a half years later, that Union soldiers brought the news to Galveston Texas that Civil War had ended and that enslaved people were now free. 

The effort to have Juneteenth recognized as a holiday stretches back many years; the alacrity Congress showed in passing the legislation is a clear sign of the social and political change we are experiencing.  While this important holiday being recognized as an official federal holiday is a significant milestone in our journey toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion, maintaining forward progress requires constant effort and attention.  We must continue to address the social, economic, and political factors that impede progress.  We must continue to look ahead for the next important milestone and strive to reach it.

As a freshman in college 30 years ago, I reached my first important milestone on my journey when I was a founding member of a student group focused on what was then known as multi-culturalism.  The experience was both formative, in that I was painfully unaware of the widespread struggle for equity and inclusion, and transformative, in that I learned to embrace diversity and that the idea of “we are all the same” is about our humanity, not 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 perhaps isn’t as well-known as our literary or Revolutionary history, but its contributions are seen and felt by Concordians on a daily basis. The families who have made significant contributions include names like Thomas and Jennie Dugan, Caesar Robbins, a Revolutionary War Patriot and namesake of the Robbins House in Concord, and Brister Freeman, namesake of Brister’s Hill, to name a few. Concord is continuing on its journey, as is much of the United States, to better recognizing its African American history and honoring Juneteenth in Concord is an important milestone in that journey. 

The Town is celebrating Juneteenth through a series of social media posts, special walking tours at the Concord Visitor Center, and by supporting Concord’s African American History resource and museum, the Robbins House.  Due to both the Town bylaws and collective bargaining agreements, municipal operations will continue as usual on Friday, June 18 and, although Saturday, June 19 now is a legal holiday, certain operations will continue that day (e.g., public safety, Beede Center/White Pond/Emerson Pool, Visitor’s Center) as is customary on many other holidays. 

In addition to observing Juneteenth, we are engaged in an effort to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion with the expressed goals and aims of increasing inclusion amongst leadership and staff, to better address barriers that limit belonging and full equity, and to create a system and clear roadmap, and increased capabilities.  The initial phase of what is expected to be an ongoing effort are as follows:

·       A Leadership Assessment consisting of individual interviews with each Senior Management Team member 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 Education & Learning component for the Senior Management Team and other designated individuals to bolster diversity, equity, and inclusion knowledge base and enhance Inclusive Leadership capabilities. 

·       The Development of a Strategic Road Map to meet and maximize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion goals.

·       Recommendation and consultation on key policies, procedures, and practices to mitigate or eliminate bias in key areas: improve talent recruitment, development, and retention and bolster communication around DEI.

Finally, as part of both the work above and the future observances of Juneteenth, the Town will  work to revise its holiday policies so they provide a more inclusive workplace that gives employees the opportunity to celebrate holidays that are important to them.

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