After Jefferson’s Black Lives Matter teach-in, five mothers of color got together over hot soup and empanadas on a warm June day to discuss their own experiences with racial injustice within the school district and the town. Sharing their stories made the women realize that they had a lot in common, and this sparked them into action.
“I wanted to stop complaining and start doing. This was a perfect opportunity to ride the movement of ending discrimination in our community,” said Christine Malloy, one of the founding members.
Since the committee’s founding in June, it has already achieved major accomplishments. The five women — Lynnette Denson, Andrea Garcia, Jessica DeJesus, Elizabeth Tajada, and Christine Malloy — launched a Facebook page and published a letter to the editor in The Jefferson Chronicle.
Malloy said the committee’s letter made a lot of waves in the community, with dozens of residents sharing their own stories with the group. It also led to a meeting with Superintendent Jeanne Howe, where the administration agreed to host a teach-in in August to expose microaggressions that students and parents face within the school district.
However, the diversity committee isn’t focused just on uplifting the voices of racial minorities. It is also “committed to representing ending intolerance in the community including LGBTQ, children of a different race, ethnicity, religion, and those with physical and/or learning disabilities,” according to its press release. “They are about creating an inclusive equitable environment where all can thrive.”
With progress already made and ambitious ideas for the future, the diversity committee hosted a meet and greet on July 29 to build its momentum. The committee hopes to make this movement sustainable by forming a nonprofit. Along with legal assistance, it also sought volunteers for its social media, alumni and parents to speak at the teach-in, and regularly attend board of education, town council, and PTA meetings to put pressure on building an inclusive environment.
The committee’s leaders emphasized that they want this work to be fun and entertaining as well. When the pandemic is over, they said they want to host cultural events like dance and cooking classes to uplift different cultures and help parents and students alike learn about different backgrounds.
They established a fundraising goal of $5,000 to afford these events. They said they also want to use the money to finance teacher trainings on diversity and fund future ideas to create a more diverse and inclusive environment in Jefferson.
Membership to the committee is open to all residents. For more information, residents can visit JTdiversity.com or email the committee directly at JTdiversity@yahoo.com