On Friday, June 19th the Town of Winchester Select Board, in collaboration with the Network for Social Justice, will raise a rainbow pride flag and a Black Lives Matter flag on the Winchester Town Common.
“This is a welcome symbolic gesture from the Town of Winchester that reaffirms its commitment to equality, inclusion and progress,” said Representative Michael Day. “We, as a community, acknowledge that we must do a better job to address systemic prejudices in all aspects of our society, whether that is in criminal justice, access to policy-making bodies or even something as fundamental as housing opportunities.”
Taking place on Juneteenth, an annual celebration commemorating the end of slavery, and during LGBTQIA+ Pride Month, raising the flags is an endorsement of the town’s Human Rights Statement, which states Winchester is “grounded in respect for every individual, and therefore protects all residents, employees, business owners, students and visitors in the enjoyment and exercise of human and civil rights.” “Celebrating both Juneteenth and Pride Month is an important affirmation of Winchester’s values – a welcoming, inclusive community where everyone is treated with respect and dignity,” said Senator Jason Lewis.
Since 1619 when the first ship carrying African people sold into slavery arrived in what is now known as the United States, national and local policies based on white supremacy have oppressed and discriminated against people of color through an intricate structural framework which perpetuates racist policies and exclusion practices. Amidst the recent protests and dialogue around systemic racism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, raising the Black Lives Matter flag is an acknowledgement of the work that we all need to do to create a more equitable and inclusive society and reinforces that Joint Statement on Police Brutality and Systemic Racism released by the Network for Social Justice, Town of Winchester, Winchester Public Schools, Winchester School Committee, and Select Board. The statement calls on “everyone in this community to act as anti-racists and proclaim that our community, united in solidarity across town government, schools, and places of work and worship, has zero tolerance for racism, hatred, or exclusion of any kind.”
The month of June commemorates the Stonewall riots that catalyzed the modern Gay Rights movement. Raising the pride flag is an important show of solidarity to our friends and neighbors in the LGBTQIA+ community in Winchester and beyond it.
“Our Town Common is the right place for Winchester to activate a community conversation about racial justice, equity, and inclusion as we aspire to the values expressed in the Town’s Human Rights Statement,” Select Board Chair Michael Bettencourt said. “I am hopeful that the Winchester community can create a safe place where we can have these tough conversations.”
The public is invited to the flag raising on the Winchester Town Common on Friday, June 19th at noon. Social distancing will be in effect, and mask usage is required.