Racial Justice Victory

About 200 people attended rallies in favor of abortion rights on the Fourth of July in the county that's home to Greenfield. Susannah Whipps is a member of the Massachusetts legislature and she was at the rally in Orange. “A quick count of folks in Orange was over 90 participants,” she told the Valley Post. Other rallies on July 4 were in Greenfield and Shelburne Falls.

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On June 27, 2022 in Amherst, racial justice activists had a victory. The town council voted to pay reparations for slavery. The town will spend $200,000 per year. In 2020, the town council voted unanimously to make a plan to pay reparations to black people who live in Amherst. Shalini Bahl-Milne was a member of the council then and she still is. In 2020, Bahl-Milne told the Valley Post, “This was an important first step for us as a town to acknowledge and apologize for structural violence and systemic racism targeted at Black Americans for over 350 years. We can't wait for change to happen nationally. For instance, House Resolution 40, a bill that would establish an expert commission to investigate the legacy of slavery and its ongoing harm, and come up with proposals for reparations, was first introduced more than 30 years ago and nothing has come from it yet.”

Bahl-Milne continued, “I believe more towns need to take this important first step and then the equally important next step of bringing the community together to create a shared vision for what reparations will look like in each of our towns. This initiative has to be led by the Black community members with the support of non-Black residents. As a town councilor I am looking forward to supporting the resident sponsors of this resolution—Michele Miller and Matthew Andrews—and other community groups—like the Racial Equity Task Force and Defund 413— along with so many residents who've been working tirelessly to make Amherst an equitable and safe town for all residents.”

She went on, “I'm grateful for the work of my colleagues who co-sponsored this resolution—Alisa Brewer and Pat De Angelis. One of the roles I see as a town councilor is to support the creation of inclusive spaces for these conversations to take place and multiple channels for Black voices to be heard and to shape the policies needed to undo racism in our town. I look forward to the next phase of advancing reparative policies that move us beyond words to real change.”

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Hadley, Massachusetts borders Northampton. In Hadley, workers at the Trader Joe's supermarket are organizing a union, Maeg Yosef told the Valley Post. She has worked at the store for nearly 20 years. The majority of the workers at the store support the union, Yosef said. An election is set for July 27 and 28. The workers have a web site at https://traderjoesunited.org

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