Human Rights Committee

Statement of NHRC on Derek Chauvin Verdict 

To members of our Needham community:

 The members of the Needham Human Rights Committee extend their deepest sympathy to the family of Mr. Floyd and hope that his loved ones can begin to heal from this tragic and senseless loss.

 The long-standing history of systemic racism in our country has created a society in which Blacks are devalued and marginalized.  The guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin not only serves accountability for the killing of George Floyd, but it is a long overdue step toward justice for Black Americans.  

 The Needham Human Rights Committee will continue its work toward racial equity and will endeavor to “actively engage with those who feel the impact of racism most directly, seeking their input, guidance, and honoring the wisdom of experience.” -Needham Unite Against Racism Initiative

In accordance with our purpose, we strive to reaffirm the worth and dignity of every human being.  Our hope is to facilitate healing and the creation of a world grounded in community building and transformative change.

Signed the Members of the Human Rights Committee


Statement of NHRC on the April 13, 2021 Election

The Needham Human Rights Committee would like to congratulate Lakshmi Balachandra and Marcus Nelson on their historic election wins for Select Board members.   As the first people of color to be elected to the Board, we are excited to collaborate with this diverse body to continue our mission of making Needham a more inclusive and welcoming place for all who reside, work and visit our community.  The significant increase in civic engagement in this election demonstrates exciting opportunities for progress in executing NUARI’s (Needham United Against Racism Initiative) recently adopted Mission statement:

Needham will be a community free of racism, racial bias, prejudice, and discrimination.  Our residents, schools, businesses, organizations, and government will work together to identify barriers to racial equity and create solutions, opportunities, resources, and support for removing them.

For the first time in the history of Needham, we are experiencing what NUARI named as guiding principle 1(a): people of color will see others of color in leadership roles in government, business, the school system, and civic groups.

The business of advocating for human rights in Needham is deeply enhanced by having many different perspectives represented in analyzing any situation.  Today we have more voices than ever at the table to do this work.  The Needham Human Rights Committee is eager to continue to join forces with the Select Board to amplify community concerns and protect human rights.

 We also want to extend our gratitude to Maurice Handel and John Bulian for their support and allyship during their tenures.  Their commitment to furthering human rights initiatives has always been appreciated and will truly be missed.

Signed the Members of the Human Rights Committee

In Recognition of David Summergrad:

Our Community has lost a champion of human rights.   As president of the NEEDHAM DIVERSITY INITIATIVE, and as a resident of Needham, David Summergrad stood up to oppression and discrimination.  He was a gentle provocateur who inspired others to make the world a better place through self-education, experience, and a commitment to justice and action.  The Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. David upheld this principle. In the words of friends and colleagues, he “relentlessly pursued what others may have seen as impossible”; “served as a ‘mover’, peace-maker, a bridge-builder and connector”; “was a social justice warrior, beautiful spirit, and phenomenal human being.” David Summergrad touched the lives of many, including our young human rights activists. His legacy inspires all of us to campaign for the basic rights and freedoms that humans are entitled to. “We have much work to do to honor and extend this significant legacy he leaves.”

Anti-Racist Resource List (PDF)

MEETINGS

  • 7:30 p.m.
  • Third Thursday of each month
  • Meetings are held virtually on Zoom until further notice (please check web calendar for zoom information)

MEMBERS

All residents of the Town of Needham are welcome to participate in the committee’s activities and meetings.

Tina Burgos, ChairAshok Mehta
Sophia DedekMarcus Nelson
Cynthia GanungJared Pizzuto
Jennifer Howard SchroederAlbert "Bud" Schram
Kerry HurwitchMarlene Schultz
Ameilia KleinJulie Venebles
Lt. Belinda Carroll (Police Liaison)

Updated April 2021

GENERAL PURPOSE

The Town of Needham’s Human Rights Committee strives to reaffirm the worth and dignity of every human being. The diversity of our community is embraced and celebrated through the following activities:

  • Education: Advocate appreciation for and respect for diversity.
  • Community Outreach: Organize community events to constructively promote diversity and tolerance.

Community Response: We respond to issues that challenge the human rights of any individual or group in our community.

STATEMENTS AND MESSAGES FROM THE HRC

A Message from the Human Rights re: George Floyd (PDF)

Message from the Human Rights Committee: re: Chabad Jewish Center Arson

*  Message from the Human Rights Committee:  Post NZ Mosque Shootings

*  Human Rights Day - Vote of the Board of Selectmen 12/20/2016

*  Message from the Human Rights Committee: Let’s Resolve to Build a Nurturing Community (PDF)

*  Statement of the Needham Human Rights Committee in support of preserving important human rights of our transgender and non-gender conforming friends, family and neighbors

The Needham Human Rights Committee stands proudly beside all in Massachusetts fighting to preserve the basic human rights of all transgender and gender non-conforming people. While we strive to create a more perfect union, where all individuals are able to in fact live free from prejudice, ignorance, and hate, the Needham Human Rights Committee recognizes that an important step toward this aspiration is upholding existing, essential, legal protections guarding the rights of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in Massachusetts to be, undisturbed, in any public place they chose. Affirming the right to privacy and live free of discrimination, honors the human dignity inherent in all. Rescinding these fundamental rights, serves to divest our neighbors of their essential humanity and exacerbates the danger many live with every day. The Needham Human Rights Committee urges our community to join the effort to uphold the current Public Accommodations Law in Massachusetts, guaranteeing continued equal protection under the law for all transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in the Commonwealth.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Anti-Racist Resource List (PDF)

Protocol for Public Participation (PDF)

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