Chestertown Equity Advisory Committee
Chestertown Unites Against Racism
Jan 12 2021 Minutes
Present- Chris Cerino, John Queen, Tom Hayman, Vic Sensenig, Ruth Shoge, Kate Livie, Reverend Robert Brown
Absent- Jenn Baker, Latoya Johnson, Bishop Ronald Fisher, and Brandy Barrett
Executive Action: Approval of minutes December, 2020
Minutes were approved. Mayor Cerino introduced the role of the committee and its inception to the town. Councilmember Tolliver commented on his support for the initiative and his willingness to be a resource.
The attending Committee, one by one, introduced themselves to the public, their reason for joining the committee, and their role within the committee and their hope for the work of the committee. John Queen then introduced the members to the public who were unable to attend the meeting.
Secretary Kate Livie then went on to discuss the role of the committee as an advisory, not as a working committee— meaning the members will help to develop recommendations for the town and mayor to implement or execute.
John updated the group on the strategy for the community to contact the committee and observe the EAC’s work and progress via a website that will launch Monday January 18th, MLK Day, at chestertownunites.com and an email account, email@example.com. Queen went on to direct the public to contact the EAC with questions or concerns via email /website. If the public wants to be added to the agenda to comment or to view the meeting, they must be approved by Chairman Queen. The Link for the public meeting must be requested by 5pm on the day of EAC meeting.
Kate reported on the work that has been done to create the website so far and the hope that the content created by the committee will be accessible on the website for the edification
Queen reported that he has been working with Kees DeMooy and the Town to ensure that the bi-laws for governing meeting are aligned with the regulations for public meetings. Additionally, Queen is also currently identifying EAC members strengths, to best assess the expertise within the committee.
Vic and Ruth updated the group with the efforts to connect the committee with Diversity/Cultural training at Washington College. Vic and Ruth reported that they are in the planning stages.
Mayor Cerino commented that he would be interested in having the mayor and council participate in the diversity training offered by the college, in order to take advantage of the College’s resources in the consideration of the limited budget apportioned to the EAC as it was created between budget cycles. Vic confirmed that this would be ideal, but Ruth cautioned that the diversity training audiences of the college and that of the Town administration may not be compatible.
Queen reported that an upcoming Community Dialogue with the Washington College SGA has been planned for January 20, in order to create a better cross-community connection between the students and the residents of Chestertown. The students have expressed interest in discussing the rioting at the Capitol on January 6 as well as some of the racial incidents that happened at the College during the summer of 2019.
Queen reported that the first Book Club meeting plans to discuss Sherrilyn Ifills On the Courthouse Lawn at a date to be identified in April 2021. This event will be held virtually.
The Town and Council, EAC, Bayside Hoyas and James Taylor Justice Coalition will work together to identify a date. Shoge asked if the author had been contacted for possibly joining the conversation, and Queen said there was interest. Shoge asked if the books had been paid for, and Queen confirmed there was funding.
Historic Video Selection upcoming:
Queen reported that the Black Churches video series focusing on Bethel AME Church, Janes United Methodist Church, Faith Life Church has begun. Reverend Brown reported on the recording at the Bethel AME church by videographer Gordon Wallace, who is capturing the footage and producing this video series. Reverend Brown commented that the experience was rewarding and thinks the historical and educational importance of these videos will have an important impact. Queen echoed Brown’s comments about Gordon Brown, and commended his willingness to volunteer for this project.
Police Genocide (Police Brutality and Lynchings)
Queen commented that the death of George Floyd and increased awareness of police brutality made this topic something that the EAC identified as an important issue to address in the video series. This is intended to be educational, and will explore the roots of police brutality, its history nationally and locally, and how it has impacted Chestertown in the past and today.
Gentrification- (Cannon Street, Wilmer Park, Water street and Front Street)
For this video series, Queen reported that the Downtown Chestertown association has expressed interest in assisting with this initiative. This series will provide a series of interviews with business owners and homeowners to see how Chestertown has changed, the impact that gentrification has had on Chestertown’s Black population, and how town policies contributed to gentrification. Queen expressed his hope that this would be educational to the public and help to unify the community.
EAC members John Queen, Kate Livie and Rev. Bobby Brown have all participated in interviews w/local media Kent News and Chestertown Spy. Kate commented on the interview in the Kent County News and that the interview was a successful opportunity to invite the public to participate in the initiatives recommended by the EAC, as a way to help make the town an equitable and inclusive place to live for Black residents in the future.
Mayor Chris Cerino discussed the introduction video he’ll create that will explore the goal of the EAC, how it came into fruition and a quick overview of the work. Cerino plans it to be similar to his “fireside chats” and will be a one-on-one, 3 minute conversation.
At the next meeting in February, the Washington College SGA wants to report out on the community dialogue forum to the EAC.
Also, on the next February meeting, Andy Goddard from the Downtown Chestertown Association will give an update on their current initiatives as it relates to the EAC.
No public members were in attendance to comment.
John Queen moved to close the meeting at 7:53 PM.
Next meeting February 9th, 2021 7pm