The city’s Human Rights Commission met for the first time since June on Thursday, Oct. 6, and it was a decidedly sedate affair compared to some of the contentious meetings that took place before the summer break.
Commission Chair Janine Grillo Marra said there were several reasons for the long break between meetings, including the resignation of Commission Executive Director Dr. Maritsa Barros in the spring, as well as some conflicts in scheduling and clerical support. Barros also served as the city’s Chief Officer of Talent and Culture.
“It was sad to see her go, but she got a really wonderful opportunity for her own advancement and was a good fit for her personally as well as professionally,” said Marra.
In addition, former state Representative Kathi Reinstein resigned from the Human Rights Commission due to a conflict in scheduling, according to Marra.
Once the commission got down to business, the members discussed possible next steps in having the city support changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, while still celebrating people of Italian-American heritage in the city. Last year, the commission recommended the city change the name of the day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, as many other communities in the state have.
Marra noted that the Human Rights Commission is not a legislative body and cannot make changes on its own; however, she said, it can work with the city to see how changes could be made. “We are trying to learn more and trying to have conversations so that we can move in a direction where we can still celebrate Italians during October and Italian Heritage Month, and at the same time, move forward to be able to adopt attitudes where we can also honor the indigenous people that were the first people of this land,” said Marra.
Marra said she would also like to see the commission dive into recent census data to help identify those people in Revere who have indigenous roots. “We need to include them and engage with them, and education needs to be done,” said Marra.
In other business, the commission agreed that it would like to move forward with two separate banners designed by commission Vice Chair Chai Hossaini after a few tweaks are made to the banners. One banner would be used for website purposes and includes the Human Rights Commission’s entire mission statement with a background consisting of the flags of the world. A second banner could be printed for events and include the flags and a shorter version of the mission statement.