MLK Action

Mission Statement

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Action Team is the racial justice arm of the Nauset Interfaith Association (NIA) working in partnership with the people of Cape Cod. Our mission is to address systemic racial injustice by educating ourselves and others and building transformative relationships. Through conversations that raise awareness, community organizing, cultural events, and educational programs, we move toward more deeply integrated, racially diverse communities on Cape Cod.

New & Exciting…

Here we’ll post news & activities that the MLK Action Team wants to share with our neighbors


The theme of the MLK Jr. annual Breakfast event for 2023 is Healthcare Perspectives on the Lower Cape and Outer Cape and will address racial disparities in health care with a focus on action steps and solutions.  If you are interested in additional reading on this topic, we would like to suggest the following books and articles:

General Medical Health

Books:  Highly Recommended

Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation, by Linda Villarosa


“How racism skewed estimates of heart disease in women”

“Towards the Abolition of Biological Race in Medicine: Transforming Clinical Education, Research and Practice”, online, May 2020

“Miles to Go Before We Sleep”, by David Williams

“Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care” National Academy of Science, 2002


Center for Black Maternal Health and Reproductive Justice (CBMHRJ), Tufts University
Founder/Director, Ndidiamaka Amutah-Onukagha

People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, offers trainings, Undoing Racism to Health Agencies

White Coats for Black Lives, ( )

The Institute for Healing and Justice ( )

National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities ( )

Mental Health
Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting, by Terrie Williams, 2008


“Depression and the Superwoman” by Terrie Williams, Essence Magazine, 2005

“Support organizations preventing Black youth suicide” by Syndey Cobb (she/her). From Anti Racism Daily 11/11/22

“Mental health care is increasingly necessary in the current social and political atmosphere, especially for children and teens. With age, their sources of stress continue to expand while social and structural obstacles bar them from adequately managing them. Lack of support amidst broader and individual struggles can cause a mental and emotional toll with devastating effects. This is becoming more evident with the rise of suicide rates among Black adolescents. While suicide rates have declined for most racial groups, they have increased among Black youths (CDC). A 2021 study found that “from 2013 to 2019 the suicide rate of Black boys and men 15 to 24 years old rose by 47 percent, and by 59 percent for Black girls and women of the same age” (New York Times).

Young Black people’s formative years are often shaped by discrimination, stereotypes, and individual and collective traumas. And historically, access to mental health treatment for Black people has been jeopardized by undertreatment, misdiagnoses, and overall neglect by the healthcare industry. …

Today, African Americans are three to five times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia (National Library of Medicine). Additionally, Black teenagers’ mood disorders are frequently misdiagnosed as behavioral or psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia. While a white child may be diagnosed as depressed for not participating or being engaged in class discussions, a Black child may be labeled defiant (Child Mind Institute)”.


The Loveland Foundations ( )

National Alliance on Mental Health ( )

Intersection of Environment & BIPOC Health:

Fumes Across the Fence Line: The Health Impacts of Pollution From Oil and Gas Facilities on African American Communities”, NAACP and Clean Air Task Force, 2017 ( )

Misc. Related Reading:

Rest is Resistance, by Tricia Hersey
Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality, by Robert Bullard


We also recommend the following articles and resources for educators, parents, students and community members:

– From The Hechinger Report, Covering Innovation and Equality in Education, “Why the narrative that critical race theory ‘makes white kids feel guilty’ is a lie”

– Facing History and Ourselves: Offers many social and racial justice resources including lesson palns and toolkits

– Teaching for Change: Buidling Social Justice Teaching in the Classroom,

– Social Justice Books, Offers a great selection of multicultural and social justice books for children, YA, and educators.

– Zinn Education Project, 

– AFT Share My Lessons: Civil Rights Lesson Plans and Resources,

– Voices of Rebirth: A Reading List on Being Indigenous in America,

-From Education Week, “How Do You Teach Black History Without Breaking the Law. Advice From a Teacher

Of Legislative Interest:

Boston, MA – Last week, State Representative Alice Peisch and State Senator Jason Lewis reintroduced the Massachusetts Educator Diversity Act (HD3621 and SD1831), a comprehensive bill which would improve and strengthen efforts across the state to train, recruit and retain more teachers of color and move districts closer towards meeting the goal set by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to increase the percentage of diverse educators to 25% by 2030. Educators of color currently only make up 13% of all educators in Massachusetts, despite the fact that students of color are 46% of all students.

Call/write your representatives and ask them to support this bill.

From Mississippi Today

Fascinating article about conservative white law student in Mississippi who discovers positive truth about CRT, “Inside Mississippi’s only class on critical race theory”.

Belonging Books

I would like to introduce Belonging Books, a community space and bookstore that centers on and celebrates the voices, stories and work of Black, Indigenous and other underrepresented communities on Cape Cod. Belonging Books strives to create a space for joy, celebration, safety and belonging through programs and events.

Learn more at

Erica Tso Haidas
Founder & Owner
Belonging Books
[email protected]

Upcoming Events


Special Events

Wednesday, 2/15 at 7:00 pm,  Cape Cinema in Dennis in Celebrating Black History Month with 3 unearthed and restored documentaries featuring Writer and Social Justice Advocate James Baldwin. Following the screening, we have an incredible lineup of panelists that will lead a discussion and take questions, moderated by Ayanna Parrent

Panelists include: Tara Vargas Wallace (AmplifyPOC), Donna Buckley (Barnstable County Sheriff); Robert Galibois (Barnstable County DA);  Muska Yousef (Attorney & Advocate); Tamora Israel (Community T Productions) and Paulene Jones (Community Advocate).

Belonging Books will be running a pop up shop in the lobby during the event.

“This event, “First Light Flashback” is one in a series of programs, productions, and study groups funded by MASS Humanities and the MA Cultural Council through the MLK Action Team of NIA in partnership with Wellfleet Historical Society and Museum and other generous donors. The events are entitled “Building Relationship, Building Equity: Acknowledging the Continuing Presence of Wampanoag on Cape Cod.”
February 18, 2023, from  2:00 pm – 3:30 pm LEARN MORE

Also February: Dawnland Voices Book Discussions with locations in Wellfleet, Eastham and Truro; March: Red Hawk Dancers

NOW AVAILABLE: Celebrating the Mosaic: Sites of Historic and Cultural Significance for the Many People Who Call ( & Have Called) Cape Cod Home, a fun, self-paced, (virtual or in person) educational scavenger hunt activity for people of all ages.  Use this link:

Past Special Events

Jeanne Morrison, MLK Action Team Member

Jeanne Morrison, MLK Action Team Member

Jeanne Morrison, MLK Action Team member wears many social and racial justice hats – she is co-president of the League of Women Voters Cape Cod, and an active member of the Barnstable Human Rights Commission and Barnstable No Place for Hate.  To recognize and honor...

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Film Viewing and Panel Discussion

Film Viewing and Panel Discussion

The MLK Action Team and other Cape Cod racial justice organizations hosted a showing of film “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America”. (This film is highly recommended to anyone who wants to understand issues of racism in the US). It was followed by a panel...

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This “Meet …” is a new feature of the MLK Action Team web page to introduce you to people of color, from across Cape Cod and across the country, from both contemporary times or from times long past, who we think history should have given more attention.

John Reed

John Reed

John Reed is a fierce human and civil rights advocate who has worked collaboratively with community leaders and legislators for a half century to identify and address the problems and needs of people of color and the underserved on Cape Cod. He has bucked the system of oppression and discrimination to advocate for others of all races.
He is an educator, mentor, community leader, trailblazer and inspiration to countless students. He has been a leader in the Cape Cod NAACP branch for 25 years, where he served as President until recently. John was originally from Boston MA and relocated to Cape Cod in 1973. He taught US history, African American History, social studies and served as the attendance and equity officer at Barnstable High School from 1973 to 2015. Many students and other members of the community have attributed their success and high achievements to John’s encouragement and guidance and often referring to him as their “second dad”. He encouraged and assisted Debra Dagwan, the first black woman elected to Barnstable Town council and State Representative Kip Diggs, the first black man from Cape Cod elected as state representative to run for office.

John has served the Cape Cod community for the past 49 years in many capacities including Chair of the Barnstable County Human Rights Commission; Vice President of the New England Area Conference of the NAACP; Treasurer of the Yarmouth Housing Authority; President and a board member for the Barnstable Teachers Association, the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the National Education Association. He also presides as Executive Director of the Zion Union Heritage Museum in Hyannis where he uses his teaching skills to host exhibits and educational programs about the history of people of color and new immigrants on Cape Cod. He also collects clothes for students, delivers turkeys during the holidays, raises scholarship money and conducts workshops on gang violence all over the Northeast.

He is the recipient of numerous awards including the National Education Association’s Harper Councill Trenholm Memorial Award presented for “advancing the cause of equal opportunity, improving relationships between diverse groups and expanding education opportunities for minority students and educators”; community leadership awards from the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus and the Town of Barnstable Town Council. In 1992, the Barnstable Town Council proclaimed July 18 “John Reed Day” and urged citizens to follow Reed’s example by spending the day volunteering. In 2021, John received BCHRC’s Rosenthal Community Champion Award which is given to an individual in the public sector who has fostered and supported human rights, concepts, and ideals.

John was one of the first supporters of AmplifyPOC as he believed the organization was fulfilling a long standing need. When he was first elected president of the Cape Cod Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1991, he said “racist sentiments colored Cape Cod real estate”. He’s also said “We have tried to grow the community … to raise generations of young people to get to the places where we can’t go but economic opportunity is the biggest problem facing minorities and other year-round residents of Cape Cod”. He contends that the limited numbers of high paying permanent jobs are limited and sparse for people of color including undocumented immigrants. Many are underpaid. “Ask the minority population how they feel,” he said. “There is not a chicken in every pot.”

John says he does all he does because “community service is worth it.” He says, “I’ve reached out and touched people”. “I hope that’s what I’ve done.”

Thank you John, for the many contributions you’ve made to make Cape Cod a kinder, more equitable place for all!



sMLK Executive Committee and Task Force Chairpersons

Executive Committee

Pancheta Peterson, Co-Convener
Karen Boujoukos, Co-Convener
Ken Campbell, Treasurer
Sally Norris
David Purdy
Deborah Ullman
Reverend Wesley Williams

Task Force Chairpersons
Jeff Spalter 
Chair, Conversations With Police

David Purdy 
Chair, Criminal Justice Reform

Angelina Chilaka
Karen Boujoukos
Co-Chairs, Education Task Force

Sally Norris 

Wesley Williams

Co-Chairs, MLK Breakfast Task Force

Leo Blandford 
Chair, Health Equity Task Force


In the News

 Fascinating article about conservative white law student in Mississippi who discovers positive truth about CRT.

A powerful example of banning books in schools as a way to silence authors and themes important to people of color. Article from Popular Information Newsletter by Judd Legum.

Editorial Written By A High School Student Regarding Education and CRT from the Wall Street Journal

Amplify POC Cape Cod co-sponsors panel discussion on racism on the Cape. Watch Here

NYT Article Regarding Wealth Gap and Financial Advisors and Influencers of Color Helping to Bridge the Gap


Racial Justice Resources

Here you can learn, learn, learn and become more aware of actions you can take to be an active antiracist. (Remember – ally is a verb!)

Annotated Racial Justice Bibliography

Annotated African-American Classics: An Essential Library

On the Topic of Being an Ally:

How to Have Tough Holiday Conversations from ARD Anti-Racism Daily written by author and ARD founder, Nicole Cardoza

Education Task Force

The mission of the MLK Education Task Force is to help our communities reflect deeply on the way that race and other identifiers negatively impact education through thoughtful and thought-provoking learning opportunities. Our goal is to help to create safe, kind, and equitable educational communities by offering collaborative, value-added solutions to deficits in our educational systems and by providing BIPOC residents of Cape Cod, with a particular focus on educators and students, with social and professional support.

Current Initiatives:

  • DEI centered conference, free to all Cape Cod educators will be held on July 11, 2023 at the MRSD high school on Oak St. in Harwich.  Watch this site for detailed information soon. 
  • Community Book Drive to bring literature featuring children and families from a variety of cultures and ethnicities into our local classrooms successfully concluded with approximately 40 new books going to each Nauset and Monomoy School District 3rd grade classroom library.  Future book drives will be held on alternating years from educator conference.
  • Educator Mentorship Network to match newly hired educators of color with current and retired educators of color to help navigate their early career years.   See flyer in “Upcoming Events” section above.
  • Celebrating the Mosaic: Sites of Historic and Cultural Significance for the Many People Who Call ( & Have Called) Cape Cod Home, a fun, self-paced, (virtual or in person) educational scavenger hunt activity for people of all ages.  NOW available through link on this webpage.

Criminal Justice Task Force

We are a non-partisan group working in alliance with others to advance racial impartiality in the Cape Cod and Islands justice system with an emphasis on:

Educating the public regarding the role and responsibilities of the District Attorney, Sheriff, Governor’s Council; and encouraging open community discussion with candidates for and those who hold these offices; and advocating for all persons a more just and equal application of the law.   With the elections of 2022 behind us, we are currently considering new initiatives relating to criminal justice.  All suggestions are welcome.

An excellent expanation of the roles and responsibilities of the sheriff and district attorney, two critical positions in the criminal justice system from our partner and allied organization the Interfaith Justice Committee:

There are 14 Sheriff Departments in the Commonwealth, one for each county. Sheriff elections are held every 6 years, and in the last election, over 670,000 ballots left the sheriff selection blank.
The sheriff’s primary responsibility is the welfare of those incarcerated in the county jail, but also includes overseeing:
• Medical concerns
• Educational programming
• Preparation for reentry into society when they have completed their sentence
• Prisoner access to visitors and attorneys
• Telephone access to families and related costs
• Access to voting
The Sheriff also makes key decisions about undocumented individuals and their treatment by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).
District Attorney
The District Attorney is an elected official and this year the DA position is open for election; over 72% of DA elections are uncontested. DAs have a very wide range of discretion in:
• Whether a suspect is charged
• What charges are brought
• Setting bail
• Confiscating property – even prior to a conviction
• What sentence to recommend
• Whether a suspect can be offered an alternative to criminal charges – i.e., counseling, etc.
• Whether plea-bargaining will be offered
This can have an enormous impact on a suspect’s life: they may be released without a charge, they may sit in jail for months awaiting trial, or they may be charged with a wide range of crimes, completely at the DA’s discretion. A conviction has lifelong implications – it can affect their ability to get a job, or a drivers’ license, or to vote.
These decisions have historically been applied quite differently to different populations: compared to the (mostly white) general population, Black and Latino people are charged and brought to trial at a greater rate and receive longer sentences for the same/similar crimes. Transparency is a critical attribute to explore as you assess candidates.

Past Initiatives:

  • Know Your Sheriff: Public Education Forum, Tuesday, May 24 6 pm in partnership with ACLU MA, Cape Cod Media Center, League of Women Voters Cape Cod, NAACP Cape Cod, Cape Cod Coalition for Safe Communities and MA Women of Color Coalition (MAWOCC).
  • What A Difference A DA Makes Wednesday, January 26, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
    A Virtual Public Education Webinar Presentation by Whitney Taylor, ACLU of MA Political Director
    NEW: Full Video presentation on our partner, League of Women Voters’ website with this link (scroll down to What a difference a DA Makes).
  • Several slides regarding public perception of our criminal justice system from the presentation can be seen in our photo gallery below.
  • To view a brief summary of the What A Difference A DA Makes project launched by the ACLU of MA to highlight the key role that the Commonwealth’s district attorneys play in determining the effectiveness and fairness of the criminal legal system, view this short video.
  • Take Action Today!
    Keep Them Home Project of Color of Change
    At the height of the pandemic, thousands of people – many of whom are elderly or immunocompromised – were released from federal prison to finish their sentences on home confinement in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, which we know runs rampant in prisons and jails that lack adequate health and safety services. Show Your Support


Most Americans are familiar with Dr. Martin Luther King’s ” I Have A Dream,” moving address; however, fewer than 10% have read and studied his ” Letter From Birmingham Jail,” considered by most scholars as his most important work.

Conversations With Police Task Force

The mission of the Conversations with Police Task Force is to ensure a healthy relationship between the local police and communities of color. It is our intention — through discussion, education, and advocacy — to promote mutual trust and understanding between those pledged to serve and protect and all members of the community equally.

Educating ALL Cape Cod Students – Celebrating the Mosaic


Here are videos and resources from this Virtual Educator Conference that was held July 19 – 20, 2021 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI)

Build your understanding of what it means to create an equitable and inclusive classroom by We Schools, a free program for teachers across America, providing resources and training to support them in addressing critical social issues with their students.

From Education Week, “How Do You Teach Black History Without Breaking the Law. Advice From a Teacher

2023 Annual MLK Breakfast

​This year’s breakfast highlights the racial justice advocacy work of the MLK Action Team