City Observes MLK Day with Reflection, A Call to Support Voting Rights, & Action on Racial and Social Justice

RSJ Department and Ballantyne Administration Seek Members for Youth Justice League and Ambassadors for Reimagining Policing Efforts

The City of Somerville will observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year with reflection, a call to support voting rights, and the announcement of two opportunities for residents to help advance and inform the City’s ongoing racial and social justice work. 

“Dr. King’s family has called for no federal celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day without the passage of laws protecting voter rights because these rights are under increasing threat,” said Mayor Katjana Ballantyne.“In support of their wishes and the belief that everyone should have equitable access to the ballot box, we will be marking MLK Day not with a celebration, but with reflection on Dr. King’s words and by taking steps to address racial and social justice issues in Somerville. I am also calling on Somerville residents to voice their support for the voting rights, especially for marginalized communities,  Dr. King fought for and that form the vital foundation of our democracy. As Dr. King said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’”

For residents interested in working on racial and social justice issues in Somerville, there are two new opportunities to engage in efforts led by the City of Somerville’s Racial and Social Justice (RSJ) Department - applying to be a Reimagining Policing Community Engagement Ambassador or to joining the Youth Racial and Social Justice League. Both are paid part-time opportunities.

“I’m looking forward to continuing this important work around racial and social justice with the community,” said RSJ Department Director Denise Molina Capers. “Having the participation of the community in a range of ways helps us to identify needs, generate solutions and move initiatives forward that have a better outcome because we heard the voices and aligned our work for a greater impact that will benefit the community.”

Call for Reimagining Policing Community Engagement Ambassadors

The RSJ Department is seeking up to 14 community members to be Reimagining Policing Community Ambassadors who will help with community outreach around the City’s reimagining policing initiative to help advance the City’s commitment to eliminating institutional and structural racism. Ambassadors will help with designing community outreach plans, surveying residents, coordinating public meetings, and distributing information about upcoming meetings and engagement opportunities. 

Applicants must be residents of Somerville, work in Somerville, or own a business in Somerville. Ideal candidates will be invested in reimagining policing and social justice in Somerville, have an interest in community organizing, have knowledge of or interest in learning community engagement best practices, and should represent the diversity of Somerville.

Ambassadors will meet monthly for up to 12 months and members will also be expected to attend subcommittee meetings and to perform some work between scheduled meetings.

Interested applicants should submit brief answers to the questions below by 4 p.m. on Friday, February 4, to the RSJ Department by emailing rmason@somervillema.gov or by delivering or mailing them to Somerville City Hall, Attn: RSJ Department, 93 Highland Avenue, Somerville, MA 02143. Please contact rmason@somervillema.gov with any questions.

  • Why is it important for you to participate in the Reimagining Policing Community Engagement Ambassadorship?
  • What is your understanding of community engagement?
  • Please explain which of the eligibility criteria above you meet and how.
  • Do you have any additional experiences that you think will add a new perspective to the Ambassadorship? 
  • What is your understanding of reimagining policing?

Call for Youth Racial and Social Justice League Members

The RSJ Department is also seeking up to 14 members for the Youth Racial and Social Justice League, which will advise the RSJ Department on the formation of a Racial and Social Justice Youth Cabinet. Members must be between the ages of 16 and 20, live or go to school in Somerville, have parent or guardian consent if they are under 18, and collectively represent the diversity of the city.

The Justice League will meet every other week for up to a year to develop a set of recommendations for the establishment of the RSJ Youth Cabinet.

Interested applicants can apply in one of several ways:

Applications must be received by 4 p.m. on Friday, February 4. For any questions, please contact Paola Bernal at 832-798-4559.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Virtual Observance Webpage

The City’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony will be presented this year as a website where residents can read or watch student essays and videos that discuss Dr. King’s legacy and how his work applies to their lives and modern times. Youth submissions were collected via a call by the Somerville Human Rights Commission in coordination with the Somerville Public Schools. 

Visit somervillema.gov beginning January 17 to read or view Somerville Public School students’ reflections on the work of Dr. King. Both participation calls from the Racial and Social Justice Department will be posted to the webpage as well along with a statement from Mayor Ballantyne. 

 


The City of Somerville does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national origin, disability or any other protected category. Auxiliary aids and services, written materials in alternative formats, and reasonable modifications in policies and procedures will be provided to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities free of charge, upon request.

Persons with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication (i.e., CART, ASL), written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures in order to access the programs, activities, and meetings of the City of Somerville should please contact Adrienne Pomeroy at 617-625-6600 x 2059 or apomeroy@somervillema.gov.