Human Rights Commission

Agendas & Minutes

Agendas are available prior to the meetings. Minutes are available following approval. View Most Recent Agendas and Minutes 

Members

  • Stephen Leary, Chair
  • Tien Do-suarez, Vice Chair
  • Reena Patel
  • Tim Miller-Dempsey
  • Ruth Bennett
  • Lt. John Marquardt
  • Ardith Wieworka
  • Sara Smithson
  • Christine Griffin
  • Kelly Peguero
  • John Bradley
  • Stephanie Gertz
  • Akaashi Shetty

Mission Statement

The purpose of the Human Rights Commission is to advise the Hingham Select Board on how to ensure the town of Hingham supports diversity and equity while fostering inclusion and belonging for every member of the community.

The Commission will make recommendations to the Hingham Select Board on programs and policies that will help identify conscious and unconscious biases and prejudices. The Commission will work to identify and reject discrimination including but not limited to race, color, ancestry, national origin, language, citizenship status, sex, sexuality, gender identity, disability, marital, family, military or veteran status, class, socio-economic status, age, exoffender status, and religious/non-religious identities.

Statements from the Human Rights Commission

Statement for Black History Month

Written by Student Commission Member Akaashi Shetty on behalf of the Hingham Human Rights Commission:

“There will come a time when we will love humanity, when we will gain the courage to fight for an equitable society for our beloved humanity, knowing, intelligently, that when we fight for humanity, we are fighting for ourselves.”
Jason Reynolds, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

 As we commemorate Black History Month, it's crucial to acknowledge the significant importance of this yearly observance. It not only celebrates the profound contributions of Black Americans but also underscores the enduring struggle for equity and justice. Black History Month illustrates a vital reminder of past iniquities endured and the victories achieved by Black individuals throughout history. This reflection of history is crucial in shaping today's actions and future guidance.

Throughout many accounts of American history, the experiences of Black people have been impaired by the pervasive legacy of systemic racism and discrimination. From the atrocities of slavery to the courage displayed during the Civil Rights Movement, their journey has been highlighted by resilience, perseverance, and unwavering determination. Today, the celebration of Black History Month remains pertinent because it shines hope down a path and journey toward a more inclusive and equitable society.

A critical aspect of this journey towards equity is the importance of educating future generations. Beginning from an early age, engaging in and educating children about racism fosters kindness into our schools and workplaces as we grow. By spreading knowledge through age-appropriate curriculums and conversations about the realities of systemic racism and its devastating impacts on individuals and communities, we can provide young minds with the tools necessary to battle prejudice and advocate for equality.

Furthermore, continuing open and honest conversations that confront biases and prejudices in discrimination is essential for our collective efforts to challenge systemic racism and promote inclusivity. Through awareness campaigns such as the Lawyers for Civil Rights located in Boston, advocacy initiatives from colleges around Massachusetts, and community engagement such as right here in Hingham, we can harvest a community that values diversity and embraces the richness of differences, qualities and cultures between all human beings.

As we commemorate the legacy of Black Americans during this prominent celebration, let us reaffirm our commitment to diversity, equity, and social justice. By learning from past injustices, educating future generations, and engaging in honest dialogue, we can build a more inclusive and equitable environment for all. We center the voices of Black Americans and shed light on their experiences throughout this statement to grow from the past and embody the ideals and morals we espouse, not only during Black History Month, but during everyday of every year.

“At its best, activism is a form of healing. It is about what we do and how we show up in the world. It is about learning and expressing regard, compassion and love. Our Virtues are wrapped inside of our limitations. It is only when we are in close proximity to others that we begin to intimately explore the boundaries of our virtues by slamming into our limitations.”
Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Mending of Our Bodies and Hearts

 “A disdain for history sets us adrift, and makes us victims of ignorance and denial. History lives in and through our bodies right now, and in every moment.”
Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Mending of Our Bodies and Hearts

Black Wellness:
In my Grandmother’s Hand’s by Resmaa Menakem
Racial Wellness by Jacquelyn Ogorchukwu Iyamah
Black Liturgies by Cole Arthur Riley
The Body is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
One Drop  by Yaba Blay

https://lawyersforcivilrights.org/
https://dialogueandaction.northeastern.edu/

 

Statement (11/27/2023)

The Hingham Human Rights Commission stands firmly for the principles of human rights, justice, and peace. We are deeply concerned about the ongoing conflict, which has resulted in the loss of innocent lives and the suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians. For our community members- Israeli, Palestinian, Muslim, Jewish, and other individuals or groups who are fearful or personally connected to or impacted by recent and current events- we share in your sorrows. In the past weeks, we have been in touch with many community members, and we have become aware of the fear and trauma felt throughout our community. We have also been in touch with the Select Board, the Hingham Police Department, and Hingham Public Schools to ensure that we are thoughtful and vigilant toward our community's current issues. We ask all of our Hingham community to consider reaching out to impacted neighbors and to speak out against any antisemitism or Islamophobia. For anyone experiencing a mental health crisis, Aileen Walsh is Hingham’s Crisis Clinician and can be reached at 781-804-2222, walsha@hpd.org. For anyone who experiences or witnesses a hate crime, the Hingham Police Department has a dedicated Civil Rights Officer, Lieutenant John Marquardt, who can be reached at civilrights@hpd.org or (781) 804-2230.

Sincerely,
The Hingham Human Rights Commission

Creation, Purpose & Charge

The following commission is hereby created as an advisory body to the Select Board:

Section 1. Purpose 

There is hereby established an advisory body to the Select Board to be known as the "Human Rights Commission of the Town of Hingham" (hereinafter referred to as the "Commission"). 

The establishment of the Commission represents the Town of Hingham’s commitment to support the rights of all persons in Hingham to enjoy the free and equal exercise of their rights and privileges as secured by the Constitution and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and of the United States and to promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the Town of Hingham.

Section 2. Composition 

The Commission shall consist of 13 members. 

All members shall be appointed by the Select Board as follows: 

Town Government Representatives 

  • One member recommended by the Chief of Police from the Hingham Police Department; 
  • One member recommended by the School Committee from the Hingham Public Schools; 
  • One member recommended by the Council on Aging; 
  • One member recommended by the Commission on Disabilities;
  • One member recommended by the Affordable Housing Trust;
  • One member recommended by the Housing Authority; and 
  • One member recommended by the Recreation Commission.

If any of the above boards and/or officials fails to make a recommendation within thirty days of the establishment of the Commission, or thereafter within thirty days of a vacancy in said position, then the Select Board shall make the appointment on its own.  If the Select Board determines not to appoint the recommended candidate it shall so notify the board and/or official responsible for the recommendation who shall then submit a new recommendation until such time as the vacancy is filled.

Other Members 

One member shall be a Hingham resident who is a high school student recommended by the School Committee and appointed by the Select Board; and 

Five at-large members who are Hingham residents appointed by the Select Board.  

The members who are Town government representatives shall be appointed for terms of three years, and, if an employee of the Town, for such shorter period as they hold their underlying position, and may serve no more than two consecutive terms, excluding partial terms to fill a vacancy. 

The high school member shall be appointed for a term of one year. 

The at-large members shall be appointed initially as follows and thereafter for terms of three years: two for a three-year term, two for a two-year term, and one for a one-year term. No at-large member of the Commission may be appointed to serve for more than two consecutive terms, excluding partial terms to fill a vacancy

Any vacancy that occurs other than by the expiration of a term shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term by a vote of the Select Board. 

The members of the Commission shall serve without compensation. 

To the extent feasible, the members of the Commission should have relevant experience in human rights, including issues pertaining to diversity, equity and inclusion and should represent diverse groups within the Town of Hingham, including but not limited to race, color, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, religion, marital, family or military or veteran status, socio-economic status, ex-offender status or disability status.  Appointment to the Commission, however, is at the Select Board’s sole discretion.  

Section 3. Procedures 

The Chair and Vice Chair of the Commission shall be chosen by the Select Board.  The Commission shall meet upon its creation, and thereafter each January, to organize and decide on a preliminary calendar of meetings for the year and said calendar is to be posted on the Town of Hingham website in accordance with the Open Meeting Law.  The Commission shall meet at least ten times per calendar year.  A majority of members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum, and a majority of those present and voting shall be sufficient for any action taken by the Commission, unless otherwise required by law. 

The Commission’s meetings shall be governed by the requirements of the Open Meeting Law (M.G.L. c. 30A, § 18 -25) and its records shall be governed by the Public Records Law (M.G.L. c. 66, § 10). 

Section 4. Duties 

The Commission shall have the following charge and responsibilities:

A.    Develop opportunities to build community awareness concerning human rights, including, but not limited to, diversity, equity and inclusion within the Town of Hingham and beyond, through educational programs, summits, panels, celebrations and other community events.

B.    Develop programs and initiatives and provide community resources to promote human rights, including, but not limited to, diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Town of Hingham.

C.    Annually, and more often as may be requested by the Select Board, provide written or verbal reports to the Select Board on Commission activities.