Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday takes part in the “Hate Has No Port Here” video campaign.

Following a summer of protests around the world demanding attention to systemic racism and inequity, the city of Newburyport has launched community-based, anti-racism and equity-focused initiatives.

“The entire country was reeling but we had a series of incidents that happened in our city,” said Mayor Donna Holaday. “We certainly recognized that we had work to do as a community.”

The city’s new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Alliance comprises 24 community members selected from a competitive pool of applicants. It will focus on examining racial equity issues in the community, including policies, services and ordinances, and developing recommendations for change.

“Our goal was to make sure we were reaching across the entire city and for representation across all peoples,” Holaday said. “We have students, members of the LGBTQ community, faith-based, people of color, representing a variety of ethnicities.”

The alliance was brought together last month and will continue to meet virtually to get to know each other and begin an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments and threats (SWAT) to help develop a mission statement and goals for the group. The city is working to coordinate an immediate training for the alliance, as well as future opportunities for learning as they dive into their work.

“I am so impressed with people in this community wanting to be a part of this effort,” Holaday said. “It’s been incredible to learn stories and backgrounds of people in the community. We have voices from all areas.”

Following the development stage, the alliance is expected to create smaller working groups to address specific action items in the community and will work closely with the community as a whole, with the potential for a community-wide survey, resource development and programming on local cable.

The city is also launching a community read of Bryan Stevenson’s book “Just Mercy,” led by the school district. And city officials, including Mayor Holaday, took part in a new video campaign led by the First Religious Society, Unitarian Universalist titled “Hate Has No Port Here.” The three-and-a-half-minute video, available on YouTube, features faith and city leaders, along with members and families of the community, reading quotes from civil rights leaders and other advocates. The campaign also has yard signs available for residents and businesses to display to bring attention to the cause.

“The faith-based community is very large and active in the city,” said Holaday, noting that several members of the DEI Alliance took part in the video. “I was so pleased that they took the initiative and reached out to us. I thought it was a good way to launch this video followed by the DEI Alliance and our community read.”

The mayor noted that there was no set timeline for the alliance to complete its work, and that an important part of the application process was to emphasize the commitment being asked of the members.

“We have a lot of work to do,” she said.

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