Equal Justice in Needham (EJN) is a newly established, multi-generational, diverse group of Needham residents, who believe that Needham can and should be a town in which Black people and other people of color (POC) who are here as residents, students, employees, and visitors feel safe, seen, and valued.
Following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25th, 2020, protests erupted across the country and around the world against the unequal and unjust treatment of Black people and POC by police. A month later, the uprising has continued in a sustained call for real change, starting with police accountability and an end to police violence. This action has led some communities to partially divest their police departments and reinvest those funds in social services.
Needham has demonstrated consistent solidarity with the global uprising through a series of four recent actions organized and promoted by a coalition of individuals and organizations, including high school students, the Indian Community of Needham, the Needham League of Women Voters, Progressive Needham, Temple Beth Shalom, The Needham Diversity Initiative, the Congregational, Unitarian and Baptist churches of Needham, and committed Needham residents. Particularly galvanizing for local activists were stories recounted by young Black adults and Needham High School students that included racial profiling, discrimination, and harassment in public spaces in Needham.
The message is clear: racism, both systemic and overt, is a problem in the community and town. The question now is, what must be done to move beyond public expressions of solidarity toward real actions that will drive sustained changes in Needham?
“The first step is recognizing that this happens here," EJN co-founder Noah Mertz states. "We must listen to the stories of our neighbors and classmates who have experienced identity-based discrimination in our town, and come up with a plan to change our town so that no one else faces discrimination like this again.” EJN will be announcing several initiatives to take action against racial inequities in Needham in the coming weeks.
Individuals who would like to learn more or join EJN's mailing list may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, follow the group on Instagram at @equaljusticeinneedham, and find the group's Facebook page.