A Message from Carrboro Town Hall
From Town Manager David Andrews and Race and Equity Officer Anita Jones-McNair
With Labor Day marking the unofficial end of summer, it’s timely to look back at the season spent in Carrboro. As in parts of the country, our town has focused on addressing systemic racism and injustice in the United States. It is essential that we center, elevate and honor the voices and experiences of Black people and other people of color.
Heeding the call, our work this summer was active and often intense. We knew we’d have to be very thoughtful and deliberate about next steps, and thankfully we have a good foundation. In October 2018, the Town became a member of GARE (Government Alliance on Race and Equity), which has set the groundwork for much-needed shifts across our organization. Over our years of involvement, we have committed to using our resources toward equitable and effective governance that ensures racial, social and economic justice are achieved in strategies, practices and projects.
An example of being more inclusive in governance includes a complete reworking of the Town Code for gender neutral language and racial equity. We also have a core team of staff members that serve in an advisory/leadership capacity. The initial responsibilities include assisting with the examination of town practices through a racial lens, and providing equity training. The core team responsibilities continue to evolve.
In addition to acting on COVID-19 urgent matters to assist the community, the Town Council met for special meetings in July and August to accelerate the work of building our capacity to eliminate institutional and structural racism and advance racial equity. This newsletter shares some of the actions we have taken, from steps to advance racial equity in law enforcement and public safety, to the development of a report and recommendations as a result of the Minority Business Roundtable meetings, to the adoption of an Inclusive Carrboro Communications and Community Outreach Plan to increase access to information, resources and participation in civic processes. But still more is required.
We understand our responsibilities. We commit to using our power to shape the policies and practices of our local government to break down systemic barriers that have excluded and disadvantaged our communities of color. The Carrboro GARE Core Team is keeping us accountable and focused on our priorities.
We feel encouraged by what has been accomplished this summer, and are excited for what is to come. We want to ensure that Carrboro is a town where everyone feels welcomed, valued, and encouraged to fully participate and belong.
We hope you will continue to stay safe during these difficult times and continue to look out for one other.
If you have questions or would like more information, please reach us at GARE@townofcarrboro.org
Supporting Peaceful Protests
Carrboro residents were among the peaceful protesters wearing face coverings who gathered at the Arts Center and marched down Main Street in Carrboro and into Chapel Hill. They gathered on June 12 to protest U.S. police killings of Black people including George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Local student organizers distributed water, voter registration forms and free hot dogs. Among the protesters were college students and Carrboro High School grads Victoria Fornville, Eve Carter and Niya Fearrington. Representing our community values of anti-racism, they said they are committed to #StandUp #ShowUp #SpeakUp #BlackLivesMatter.
Advancing Racial Equity in Law Enforcement
The Council adopted a resolution on June 18 outlining next steps in advancing racial equity in law enforcement and public safety in Carrboro. Now required are “race and policing reports” that will include overall stop rates, demographic information, residency tracking, reasons for stops, equipment and regulatory violations, number of searches, types of searches (e.g., consensual, probable cause), number of requests denied for written consent for searches, citations, arrests, uses of force, and complaints, to the extent publicly disclosable by law.
The resolution (1) addresses policy goals and requests reports; (2) responds to community members’ inquiries and clarifies policies and expectations relating to use of force; (3) requests information about the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools; (4) requests information and offers suggestions regarding the recommended budget for fiscal year 2021; and (5) expresses an intent to establish a task force on public safety.
Access the complete resolution here: https://www.townofcarrboro.org/DocumentCenter/View/7654/A-Resolution-on-Next-Steps-in-Advancing-Racial-Equity-in-Law-Enforcement-and-Public-Safety-in-Carrboro
Declaring Juneteenth a Local Holiday
Carrboro town employees will have a ninth paid holiday next year to celebrate the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. The Carrboro Town Council has set aside June 19, or Juneteenth, as a paid town holiday. The action was taken on July 14 in a unanimous vote.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration marking the end of slavery in the United States. It was originally celebrated June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers told enslaved Black Americans in Galveston, Texas, the war was over and they were free.
Reading Frederick Douglass
Mayor Lydia Lavelle hosted a video gathering of community members for the 7th annual community reading of Frederick Douglass’ essay, "The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro." Our Carrboro tradition premiered at 12 noon on July 4, 2020.
In 1852, Frederick Douglass, one of our nation’s greatest orators and abolitionists, was asked to speak at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In his provocative speech, Douglass said, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” This scathing speech on slavery still echoes today. It took 13 years after the speech for slavery to be abolished — 89 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
THANK YOU to our presenters and readers: Justice Anita Earls, James Williams, Senator Valerie Foushee, Quinton Harper, Rachel Broun, Pilar Rocha-Goldberg, Mariana Rocha-Goldberg, Aaron Keck, Anthony Swann Sr., Anthony Swann Jr., Camille Swann, Robert Campbell, Fred Joiner, April Dawson, Ayanna Dawson, Chief Dave Schmidt, Niya Farrington, Victoria Fornville, Irv Joyner, Braxton Foushee, Diane Robertson, the Clark Family, Rebecca Cerese, Nichelle Perry, Chief Walter Horton, Nancy Duffner, Yinka Ayankoya, Jonathan Broun and Anna Richards.
Carrboro’s Reading of Frederick Douglass has garnered an exceptional number of views. You can watch this at https://bit.ly/324tQed
Hearing Impacted Voices
The Orange County Local Reentry Council, in partnership with the towns of Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Hillsborough, hosted a virtual discussion on inequality, policing, and injustice on June 24.
The panel consisted of Tommy Green of N.C. Peer Support Specialists, Whitley Carpenter, a criminal justice staff attorney, and William Elmore, of N.C. Peer Support Specialists. The panel was moderated by James E. Williams, an attorney and Chair of the N.C. Commission on Racial & Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System.
Collaborating with Minority Businesses
The Council received the findings and recommendations resulting from discussions held during the Minority Business Roundtable meetings in July. Town staff plans to continue having conversations with Black, Indigenous and People of Color business owners on a regular basis with an aim to build and foster relationships and partnerships. From the July discussions arose a recommendation to set aside a co-working facility to be located in a professional business environment with access to basic business/office equipment and services such as printing, copying, faxing, scanning, Internet access, package receiving, and even access to computers.
See the complete report at https://bit.ly/31ZOKuU
Conveying Our Values in Murals
Carrboro loves its murals. Pictured here is Quinton Harper in front of the “Nation of Many Colors – Somos una Nación de muchos colores” mural at 101 Lloyd Street. This mural was painted by volunteers from El Centro Latino.
Mr. Harper addressed the Council on Sept. 1 about plans to paint an anti-racism message on the parking lot adjacent to Town Hall. “Respectfully, I ask that you consider another option for a Black Lives Matter mural -- something that is upright and more visible, and not walked on,” he said.
The Council responded to the request with enthusiastic interest in more murals, more locations and a sooner-the-better attitude. The public art will include anti-racism messages displayed in prominent, visible locations including buildings and possibly along the NC Hwy 54 Ramp at Jones Ferry Road. It may continue to consider various options such as painting the Race and Equity logo on the Town Hall parking lot and street murals.
Going Where the People Are
The Town is seeking new opportunities to build relationships by “going where the people are.” In August, the Council adopted a plan of action and strategies to increase access to information, resources and participation in civic processes by the entire Carrboro community with renewed focus on people of color, immigrant, refugee and other marginalized communities.
Through the Inclusive Carrboro Communications and Community Outreach Plan, we are recruiting for Neighborhood Liaisons to help distribute Town information to communities in formats that work well for their neighbors. We are also making changes to the Town website to make it easier for people who are using their cell phones to find information and engage with local government. Today roughly one-in-five American adults own a smartphone, but do not have traditional home broadband service. Reliance on smartphones for online access is especially common among younger adults, non-whites and lower-income Americans. (Pew Research Center). To serve our immigrant and refugee communities, we are steadily increasing the distribution of translated materials.
Sign up to become a Neighborhood Liaison at https://bit.ly/3h0M5VK
Flying our BLM Flags
You’ve likely seen many Black Lives Matter signs and flags in neighbors’ yards throughout town! And have you seen the #BLM flags at Carrboro Town Hall, 301 W. Main St.? We invited people to drop by and take a safe selfie outside for #CityHallSelfie Day on Aug. 14.
#FeelFree to #ShowUp #StandUp #SpeakUp. You’re welcome anytime to participate and get involved in local government and your community. Consider joining a Town Advisory Board. Learn more at https://townofcarrboro.org/228/Advisory-Boards-Commissions
This fall, the Town Council is discussing proposals to change our community’s namesake to another person named Carr or to change the Carrboro town name. The Council requested a logistical and cost breakdown of the options, and to gather feedback from the local business community on the options. The Council also plans to hold a work session to explore reparations for wealth and opportunity gaps due to historical racism and discrimination.
Updating the Town Code
The Council directed staff to review the Town Code for a comprehensive update on Sept. 10, 2019. The update will review the Code’s text for gender neutral language, racial equity, and departmental practices. The updated Town Code is expected to be brought to the Town Council during fall/winter 2020 for adoption.
This project will take various levels of review by each department. It is estimated that the Town Clerk’s department will spend 300+ hours on this project. It is also anticipated that each department will spend around 10 hours of review of the Code.
The Carrboro Courier and Inclusive Carrboro