Press release: Racial Justice Advocates Call on Legislature and Vermonters to A.C.T.

January 27, 2021

Media Contact:
Stephanie Gomory
802-505-5587 / stephaniegomory28@gmail.com

Racial Justice Advocates Call on Legislature and Vermonters to ACT
Vermont Racial Justice Alliance Releases Legislative Priorities for 2021

Montpelier, Vt. – Today, the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance (VRJA) announced its top legislative priorities for 2021, expressing deep concern surrounding the unprecendented impact of COVID-19 and systemic racism on Black American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS). 

The Racial Justice Alliance is calling on the Vermont Legislature and Vermonters to ACT, building its advocacy around three main tenets: Acknowledging and reconciling historic systems of racism, Creating new structures for ADOS economic and cultural empowerment, and Transforming state systems to better serve ADOS Vermonters.

The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance, led by an ADOS Board of Directors and a people-of-color led Steering Committee, carries out its daily operations assisted by a coalition of individuals and organizations across Vermont. Their priorities this biennium will be undergirded with calls to achieve a moral budget from the bottom up that centers the lives of ADOS, then other Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC); and to declare racism a public health emergency and to address it accordingly.

“American Descendants of Slavery are in the crosshairs of the heightened intensity of COVID-19 and the historically lethal impact of the disparate outcomes of all social determinants, all of which are being hyper-exacerbated by systems of racial oppression,” says Mark Hughes, Executive Director of Justice For All and the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance. “It’s time to ACT, folks.”

During a press conference today, the VRJA outlined its legislative approach, which includes:

  • Passage of a constitutional amendment prohibiting slavery and indentured servitude in Vermont
  • Establishing a task force for chattel slavery reparations
  • Creating state economic empowerment programs for ADOS and other BIPOC, as well as their businesses
  • Creating structures that ensure land and home ownership for ADOS and other BIPOC
  • Implementing a targeted Health and Wellness Bill for ADOS and other BIPOC
  • Creating cultural empowerment spaces and programming for ADOS and other BIPOC

Also communicated as high priorities were the expansion of capacity, empowerment and funding for data infrastructure for the office of the State Racial Equity Director and the implementation of an independent Community Control Board for all law enforcement across the State.

“These legislative priorities will serve as the catalyst for the development of new avenues for ADOS and BIPOC folks’ empowerment and wellness to enable them the ability to flourish and thrive,” says Christopher Cockrell, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Racial Justice Alliance. “We at the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance are calling on our state leaders, agencies, and legislators to ACT.” 

More information can be found at http://bit.ly/3psJMA0

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About the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance: 

The mission of the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance is to secure sustainable power, ensure agency and provide security for American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS), while embracing their history and preserving their culture.

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