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
Barnstable High School Celebrates Black History Month
A Black History Classroom Door Decoration Contest brought together students’ knowledge of black history, contemporary issues and artistic creativity. MLK Education Task Forces Members, Angie Chilaka and Julia Johnson were part of the judging team that enjoyed seeing all of the student work. Below are photos with a small sampling of some of the classroom doors.
Spotlight on our racial justice partner organization AmplifyPOC Cape Cod:
Amplify POC is…
Prioritizing Racial Equity on Cape Cod
Offering Effective Community Based Programming
Providing Accessible Education & Resources
Business Development to Support Local Economy
Increasing Sustainable Ownership
Enhancing Visibility Because Representation Matters
Providing Capital Funds by Way of Micro Grants to Our Businesses
Giving Away Scholarships to Local Students of Color
Please visit their website to review their 2023 Sponsorship Opportunities.
Wonderful artwork and written messages from the annual “Embracing Our Differences” exhibit several MLK team members visited in Sarasota, Florida. Especially poignant was quote from 6th grader Tyler M. “I can’t wait for a world where the color of my skin doesn’t determine how much love I will get.”
(Embracing Our Differences is a nonprofit organization based in Sarasota, Florida, that uses the power of art and education to expand consciousness and open the heart to celebrate the diversity of the human family. It accomplishes this through an annual, large-scale, juried art exhibition and a comprehensive series of educational initiatives, programs and resources designed for teachers and students. In honor of our 20th anniversary, our theme this year is “Embracing Kindness” during a time when we need it more than ever.)
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”.
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 www.belongingbookscapecod.com
Erica Tso Haidas
Founder & Owner
The MLK Action Team in partnership with Wellfleet Historical Society and advised by Aquinnah Wampanoag educator, Linda Coombs, have created a schedule of events to bring the history, contemporary stories and culture of the Wampanoag Tribes to members of the Lower and Outer Cape communities. Begining in February: Dawnland Voices Book Discussions with locations in Wellfleet, Eastham and Truro; March: Red Hawk Dancers. Please watch this web page or that of Wellfleet Preservation Hall for upcoming dates and presentations.
COMING SOON: The MLK Education Task Force will be hosting it’s second anti-racism conference free to all Cape Cod educators on Tuesday, July 11, 2023 at the Monomoy Regional High School. Full workshop descriptions and presenter biographies will be available late next month. Watch this website for details of the conference “Educating All Cape Cod Children:Celebrating the Mosaic Continues.
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: https://nausetinterfaith.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Celebrating-the-Mosaic_-Sites-of-Historic-and-Cultural-Significance-for-the-Many-People-Who-Have-Called-Cape-Cod-Home-2.pdf
Past Special Events
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...
TedX Talk by Tara Vargas Wallace
Amplify POC Founder and MLK Action Team Member, Tara Vargas Wallace gave a TedX Talk about the racial wealth gap in the US.
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...
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 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
Pancheta Peterson, Co-Convener
Karen Boujoukos, Co-Convener
Ken Campbell, Treasurer
Reverend Wesley Williams
Task Force Chairpersons
Chair, Conversations With Police
Chair, Criminal Justice Reform
Co-Chairs, Education Task Force
Co-Chairs, MLK Breakfast Task Force
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
Additional Readings & Resources
Regarding Inequities in Healthcare
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.
- 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).
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.
- 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
LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL STUDY GROUPS
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 Educators Conference, 2021
We 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” https://hechingerreport.org/opinion-why-the-narrative-that-critical-race-theory-is-a-lie/
– Facing History and Ourselves: Offers many social and racial justice resources including lesson palns and toolkits www.facinghistory.org
– Teaching for Change: Buidling Social Justice Teaching in the Classroom, www.teachingforchange.org
– Social Justice Books, Offers a great selection of multicultural and social justice books for children, YA, and educators. www.socialjusticebooks.org
– Zinn Education Project, www.zinnedproject.org
– AFT Share My Lessons: Civil Rights Lesson Plans and Resources, www.sharemylesson.org
– Voices of Rebirth: A Reading List on Being Indigenous in America, https://longreads.com/2022/08/23/indigeneous-native-american-voices-reading-list/
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“
Fascinating article about conservative white law student in Mississippi who discovers positive truth about CRT, “Inside Mississippi’s only class on critical race theory”.
2023 Annual MLK Breakfast
This year’s breakfast highlights the racial justice advocacy work of the MLK Action Team