Published January 29, 2021
MELROSE — As millions in the nation fumed last spring and summer over the deaths of George Floyd and others at the hands of police, Mayor Paul Brodeur’s administration launched an initiative to see how city departments could contribute to creating a more racially just and equitable Melrose.
Now the initiative is expanding, and rightly so.
Brodeur announced last week the formation of a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism Advisory Task Force, and advertised for people to apply to serve on it.
“…I am creating an advisory task force to help me, my departments, community organizations, businesses, and all residents alike to work cooperatively and with purpose as we strive to improve the diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism efforts we each must undertake.
“This advisory board will be critical as I implement policy level changes in our provision of City services in order to ensure that each of our residents and students are treated with fairness and equity. Additionally, this taskforce will hold me, my administration, and our community itself accountable, and will serve as a forum which centers voices of residents of color. The last several months have taught me that this is hard, slow work, despite how urgent the need is. I am eager to find partners in the community who can contribute to this effort honestly and productively.
“Our City today enjoys an unprecedented level of diversity, and it is vital that I as Mayor and every leader in this community act with purpose and intention to ensure that there is room at the table for all Melrosians. Many residents, either through boards and commissions or grassroots organizing have been doing incredible work on these topics. I’m hoping that this task force presents an opportunity for us to align these efforts and coordinate our focus and work.”
The task force will consist of: the mayor or his designee, the city’s Human Resources director or her designee, the City Council president or his designee, the chair of the School Committee or her designee and the chair of the Human Rights Commission or his designee. Also, there will be six other members, each of whom will have one or more of the following characteristics:
• Residents of color living in Melrose
• Parents of the Melrose Public Schools student
• Residents with professional experience working on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues.
The task force will convene on a monthly basis for an hour (or longer in the event there are guest speakers). The task force will divide into sub groups in order to work on multiple priorities at once. Individuals of all ages, high school aged and older are encouraged to apply.
Qualified individuals may submit their resume and statement of interest to DEI@Cityofmelrose.org by February 5th.
Back in June, Brodeur said, “George Floyd was unfortunately not the first unarmed black man to die in police custody. While I hope his murder will be the last, it has rekindled a national conversation about what role police and local government generally have in creating communities where Blacks and other people of color are devalued, oppressed and victimized. As Mayor of the City of Melrose, I believe that the best way we can honor Floyd’s legacy is by identifying concrete steps my administration can take to ensure that each city department is committed to racial equality in all that we do.”
There was a two week self-evaluation process that began on June 8. At its conclusion, all materials and data collected were made public and the results of the work served as an initial blueprint for a community conversation regarding any medium and longer term actions the city could take. Also, residents were urged to offer specific feedback through a series of focus groups and listening sessions. Brodeur asked Melrosians to share their thoughts and experiences with specific city departments as well as data, information or articles regarding best practices in other communities.