John A. Shuford is a member of the Raleigh Friends Meeting (Quakers).  He is active with anti-racism efforts.  Raleigh Quakers strive to be an anti-racist organization.  The Reparative Justice Resolution was borne of that work within our Quaker Meeting.  John has witnessed first-hand the systemic racism that exists, especially in our criminal justice system.  He has been a facilitator for the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) for the past 30 years.  That program provides experiential workshops in prisons so incarcerated citizens can learn more about themselves, how to handle conflict, and see the world in a more positive light. AVP teaches emotional intelligence skills for a successful lifestyle. John has also taught the same skills to thousands of correctional staff improving the work culture and the prison environment. AVP welcomes anyone interested in learning these skills and perhaps sharing them with others by becoming a facilitator.

He delivered the following remarks at the August 15 City Council meeting:

Council members – please, please revisit the reparative justice resolution for a reparative justice commission.

In the city attorney’s memo she states that the role of the proposed new commission is not closely aligned with statutory authority. When you look at the statutory authority, what does it say.

1 – the study of problems in racial relations

2 – the promotion of equality of opportunity for all citizens

3 – the promotion of understanding, respect, and good will among citizens.

That’s exactly what that commission was intended to do.

An issue not studied is an issue not addressed. Take no action and you approve of the status quo.

Mecklenburg County has set up a committee to do this. Asheville has set up a commission to do this. Durham has set up a commission to do this. It can be done. It is within your power.

There’s so much information that we can use to heal race relations in our community. We have to study. If you don’t study it, you cannot change it.

So it’s easy to apologize. But to mean it is something else. An apology without meaningful action to correct a wrong, is not only insincere, even disingenuous, but hypocritical and does not represent the best interests of Raleigh.

I, along with our 25 organizational sponsors, including: Baptist, Methodist, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Congregationalist, Jewish, UUs, Quaker, NAACP, League of Women Voters,  congregations for Social Justice, ROAR, representing thousands of Raleigh voters, along with over 650 individual supporters, all ask each of you, no implore you to revisit the reparative justice resolution and approve the commission for the betterment of our community and a healing step in racial relations.

We need to have this if we’re going to move forward. We’re moving forward blindly. And just to say “okay, people start doing better. No, it doesn’t work that way.”

“Not everything faced can be changed, but nothing will change unless it is faced.”  James Baldwin.

Please, please revisit the commission. You have the authority to do that. You also will address gentrification and you’re hearing a lot about gentrification.

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