Human Relations Commission
|Marci Pina-Christian||Executive Director|
|Sidney Murray II||Commissioner|
Meetings are held on the third Friday of the month at 3:30 pm in Room 120 at City Hall. If you would like to come before the commission or contact the commission, you can email or call the office at 508-979-1464.
Section 2-130 of the City Code: established 10/26/76.
Consists of nine members, each of whom shall reside or be employed in the City of New Bedford. Commission members shall serve without compensation and shall be appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council for THREE YEAR TERMS.
The mission of the Human Relations Commission is to;
- Advocate for the human and civil rights of all residents of the City of New Bedford
- Educate the public about their rights and create greater awareness of human rights issues
- Intake, mediate, or refer complaints of human rights violations
- Outreach – Work with public and private organizations to increase compliance with local state and federal laws and raise the level of awareness and sensitivity to human and civil rights issues
To promote mutual understanding and respect among all citizens of the city and to assure equal opportunity for all, through education, research and investigation, and collaboration. To aid and assist in the enforcement of Mass General Laws Chapter 151B and 151 C sections 92A and 98 of Chapter 272 and section32 of Chapter 121B
Are you a victim of discrimination? We want to hear from you.
Contact: Marcelina Pina-Christian, Human Services Coordinator & Executive Director of Human Relations Commission
Address: 133 William Street (City Hall Rm. 113) | Hours: Mon-Fri. 8:30-5:30
Phone: 508-979-1464 | Fax: 508-991-6262
A Message on Welcoming & Ukraine
Our thoughts today are with the people of Ukraine, and all those whose lives are uprooted because of the ever- present forces in our world that believe that domination — rather than democracy — is the path forward.
As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors from Europe, and as the spouse of a survivor of the war that broke up the former Yugoslavia, and as the leader of an organization focused keenly on this issues, I know all too well that authoritarianism on the continent is not a new threat.
On every continent, refugees and other victims of scapegoating and racism are being used as pawns to enable graft, corruption, and power in the hands of the few, rather than the many. This is a story as old as time, and also one we have the power to change.
My greatest hope in this moment is that we not only show generosity and compassion toward the suffering of Ukrainians, but open our eyes to recognize this pattern in the displacement of people around the globe, stripping them of basic rights. This, in turn, creates yet another cycle of “us” and “them,” reinforcing historical foundations of genocide, racism, and exclusion that pit one group against another, or perpetuate notions of white supremacy.
What restores my faith that this is possible is the growing consciousness of and work to address this pattern at its narrative foundation, along with the rise of people-driven social movements that will once again play their part in bolstering democratic norms.
At their nexus is the leadership of welcoming communities, working actively to envision a different future and create the conditions now for belonging, well-being, and basic human rights for every person — no matter where we’ve come from. Now is the time to resist “chaos” narratives and reinforce the strength and capacity of our communities to extend our welcoming values abundantly, not only to Ukrainians, but other immigrant populations, and to anyone who may be feeling unsettled or unsafe.
Now is the time to remind our communities that safety is rooted in coming together across race and national origin to demonstrate that democracy, whether in our own backyard, or around the globe, is the way forward.
It is also a time to remember that every single person fleeing conflict has the right to seek safety in other countries and is entitled to protection without discrimination.
Please as well as to reach out if there are other ways we can support you as a community — striving, together, to be beacons of hope for so many in this difficult moment.”
The New Bedford Human Relations Commission is not affiliated with “Welcoming America” but supports the sentiments in this message since we are also deeply concerned about the people and the situation in Ukraine.
- Help website for Ukrainians from UNHCR
- Advocate for protections in the US TPS for Ukrainians
- Advocate for TPS for other populations in need of protection right now (sample sign-on letter)
- Examples from our international members:
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
- Welcoming Australia
- COMPAS Oxford (UK)
- NPR roundup of how to help Ukrainians now
2022 MLK Essay Contest Winners
2021 Human Rights Day Awardees
Executive Director of the Immigrants’ Assistance Center, Inc. in New Bedford, MA. Ms. Hughes has been creating and implementing services based on the immigrant communities needs for over 34 years. She is active in domestic and international advocacy for immigrants, appearing before local, state-wide and U.S. Congressional hearings. In 2006, she developed and implemented the first information exchange on forcibly repatriated Portuguese citizens between the governments of the US and Portugal, expanding the program in 2008 to include the Cape Verdean government.A frequent lecturer at colleges and universities, She has been the keynote speaker at various conferences in Washington, D.C., the Azores, and Lisbon, Portugal on the impact of deportation on U.S. families.
Over the years, Ms. Hughes has responded to the particular needs of undocumented immigrant youth by developing personalized guidance, cross-cultural language learning, citizenship and civic involvement programs for middle school and high school students, as well as educating law enforcement about risks unique to these students. Ms. Hughes serves on several boards and councils: including the trustee of Southcoast Health System, New Bedford Economic Development Council, the New Bedford Workforce Investment Board, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Immigrants and Refugees, and Attorney General Maura Healey’s Advisory Council on New Americans.
She is co-founder of Our Sister’s School, an all-girls middle school for low-income New Bedford-area students. IAC under the leadership of Helena Da Silva Hughes has advocated for Covid Equity, Police Reform, at the state and local levels. IAC is also taking a leading role in securing housing for Afghan Refugees and services. Ms. Hughes is leading a coalition of service providers and for this, she on behalf of IAC is receiving the Human Rights Award for advocating for the rights to asylum and nationality on the part of an organization.
Founder of New Bedford Health Initiative. The New Bedford Health Initiative (NBHI) is a Community Health Organization focused on improving Health Equity for one of our city’s most vulnerable populations. Providing health necessities such as haircuts, health checks, minor wound care, care kits, a listening ear, clothing, and winter essentials – the team has been able to practically meet the needs of hundreds.
For the last three years, our team has had the tremendous privilege of serving the needs of our community including children, adults, and seniors, and has partnered with various organizations including Boston’s Jubilee Christian Church to also service areas in Boston. After years of participating in community volunteer work, Cynthia Delmas founded this organization in 2018 with the sole goal of improving health outcomes for those in her city. Coupled with a passion for healthcare, health equity, and servicing, NBHI was birthed.”
For starting an organization that focuses on the right to a quality life and dignity in living, Cynthia Delmas is being given this award in the category of youth/young adult organization.
Retired as President and CEO from First Citizens Federal Credit Union in January of 2020. A long-time leader in the financial community, he has worked with many communities, business, and civic organizations. Peter is a collaborator in efforts around education, business, and non-profits especially working for those who needed help the most. Peter could have gone into retirement, sat back, and dealt with his health issues, which he has been battling for a few years, but he chose not.
It would have been considered a time for self-care and rest and no one would have questioned him. However, that’s not how Peter along with his wife Robin, live their lives. With retirement came the timing of the Covid-19 pandemic. With his years of service and experience, he didn’t sit back but moved forward and continued to work continuously in every collaborative effort that arose. To be a stakeholder addressing issues of the homeless, evictions and rent increases, food insecurities, testing, and vaccinations, even weeding at the community garden at the Sister Rose shelter. His leadership and experience brought people together, informed others, and pushed for answers. Even though at times making meetings meant listening and talking and sending notes while he was in Boston receiving treatments. He continued to be a part of not just listening but leading.
Peter would be the first to tell you he couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to do all that he’s being given credit for without so many partners, especially his wife Robin. What he doesn’t see is that so many others continue to be mentored, tutored,and educated by his influence. It’s about what we do together that lasts and will make the difference. It’s not about who gets the credit, but who gets the help needed.
For partnering and providing funding and resources to many community projects. For mentoring and tutoring many through his knowledge and good works. For giving tirelessly of himself for the betterment of others. For leadership during Covid 19 pandemic and the housing crisis. Peter Muise is the 2021 Human Rights Day Recipient in the category of Individual for Advocacy on Human Rights
Thanks to all who participated in the New Bedford Human Relations Commission Survey in August 2020. The link provided is the results of the survey. For more information on the survey contact the Human Relations Commission office at 508-979-1464.