I believe that most people in Needham value diversity and inclusivity. I also believe that recent events have made us all aware that we need to do a lot more than we have been to make that value truly a reality here where we all live or work or go to school.

Our approach following the events that led to this realization  has been to leverage our leadership by creating a working group called Needham Unite Against Racism (NUARI) working group to difficult discussions about our community’s role in all of the aspects of racism experienced by Blacks and other people of color who live, work, go to school in Needham, or drive through our town. The working group will be adopting a vision for the Town and will be to identify and rectify racism in our community.  This is in addition to strengthening the work of the Town’s Human Rights Committee.

These are only first steps.

Meanwhile we are also investigating the role of policing in Needham in light of a regretful incident that occurred last year in Needham Heights-the findings of an independent investigation of that incident in particular, and of police procedures in general are expected soon.

Other issues of equity affect the work of other Boards and Committees – namely the Planning Board with respect to zoning and the School Committee and those boards have the support of the Select Board as they work to identify issues of racial equity.

We also recognize that the burden of eliminating racism involves all of us and we will continue work with and support non-government groups such as the Needham Diversity Initiative among others to help us identify problems and develop real solutions for Needham.