Human Relations Commission Meeting

Date: January 27, 2010


Minutes for January 27, 2010

City Hall Council Chambers




PRESENT:  Dr. Samuel B. Hoff, Chair, Ms. Ellen O. Wasfi, Mr. Mark Monroe, Ms. Dawn Allen-Pyne, Mr. Paul Fleming, Mr. Ivan Finney, And Mr. Roy Sudler, Jr.


I:  The meeting was called to order at 7:08 p.m. and there was a moment of silence.


II:  There was a motion by Commissioner Wasfi to approve the agenda, and a second from Commissioner Fleming.  All voted in favor, and it was approved.


III:  There was a motion by Commissioner Monroe to approve the minutes of the December 16, 2009 meeting, and Commissioner Allen-Pyne seconded it.  After some discussion and 2 corrections, all approved it.

The minutes of the January 18, 2010 public forum on the apology for slavery were brought up for adoption.  Dr. Hoff expressed his appreciation for the quick turn around time made by Contractual Assistant, Mary Walson in typing up the minutes.  Commissioner Allen-Pyne moved to approve the minutes, and Commissioner Fleming seconded.  There was discussion of the wording of Mr. Brooks statement on the bottom of page 2, and it was corrected to read ?others thought? not that ?he thought? we should let bygones be bygones.  All approved this corrected version of the minutes.


IV:  Comments from the Community:  Michael L. Baker from Camden, came forward and read an article he had written last November about the slavery apology.  He wants to look to the future, not the past.


Mr. EShed Alston presented a ?written objection, complaint and demand to be heard? which he read to the DHRC.  Copies of this document were supplied to all commissioners and for the record.


Mr. Fred Tolbert, of Dover, who spoke at the last meeting, expressed his feelings again tonight that it is appropriate for the State of Delaware, which has such a long history of adverse race relations, especially below the C&D Canal, to apologize for its role in slavery.  He urged DHRC to push for the apology to help end the adverse relations between the races.


Mr. Ken Dryden, from Newark, also spoke at the Jan. 18 meeting.  Tonight he said he thought the apology for slavery issue brought up a very touchy subject especially for Caucasians who do not understand the Black?s anger.  He mentioned that he found records of his ancestors who were listed with pigs & hogs owned by the wealthy slave owners.  He spoke of a monetary obligation, and reparations, that he feels he is owed because he lost his rightful inheritance.





V:  Chair?s Report:

A:  Activities by DHRC Members:  Commissioner Sudler spoke to students at the Dover High School about race relations.  He also went to the Martin Luther King Day prayer breakfast.


Chair Hoff was contacted by the Congressional Quarterly Press and invited to submit articles on the history of American slavery and segregation, and segregation in Delaware.


Commissioner Monroe reported that he would be attending an event sponsored by the Delaware Workforce Diversity Group.  They will have General Stacey Harris as speaker at the event.


B:  Status of Filling Vacancies on the DHRC:  3 positions need to be filled, those of Anlee Baccio-Walker, Saundra Sutton, and Brian Lewis.  Chair Hoff?s job is to be sure to fill the DHRC with a diverse contingent of commissioners from Dover.  He wishes to have the City post an ad in the newspapers (about $100).  Commissioner Monroe made a motion to approve $ for an ad, and Commissioner Alley-Pyne seconded.  All approved it.  Commissioner Wasfi suggested contacting the papers to see if they want to do a story about the DHRC, and also see if the local radio would run something.  Possibly the City?s web site could be used to advertise the vacancies.


Commissioner Sudler expressed his concern over the dedication of some of the commissioners who consistently miss 3 or more consecutive meetings.  He wants to closely monitor who is missing and who is excused.


VI:  Committee Reports: 

A:  Intake Screening: There has been an intake filing at City Hall.  Chair Hoff met with the person in early January.  The process has started, and may take place in February.  The role of the DHRC is to formulate resolutions and request the City Council to assist in resolving the issues.  The State HRC will be invited to this hearing.

B: Community Programs:  Commissioner Sudler has been conducting a survey of race relations issues at Dover High.  He will work with Commissioner Wasfi on the project to get the teachers on board in an after school program.

C:  School Programs:  Commissioner Wasfi was having some difficulty with logistics and scheduling of her school programs.  She will work with Commissioner Sudler as stated above.

D:  Nominating Committee:  Commissioner Monroe has not received nominations for the open seats yet.  He will take nominations from the floor at next meeting.    








VII:  Unfinished Business: 

A:  Slavery Apology:  Chair Hoff gave an overview of the process beginning in April 2007 when the resolution was tabled by the City Council so that more discussion from the public could be obtained.  DHRC picked up the issue in earnest in 2009 having 2 more public meetings hearing 80 to 90 people in all.  The resolution now has revisions due to the views and comments from the community.  An overwhelming number of people support the resolution, but it is not unanimous.  There is some split between Caucasian and Black.  The only controversy is over what we do, not over the facts of slavery.  The House and Senate have apologized, and many States as well.  DHRC has no monopoly on morality; DHRC represents the majority of the people in the city of Dover in taking up this resolution.  There was a motion by Commissioner Monroe to approve the resolution, and Commissioner Sudler seconded it.  There ensued a discussion of wording, and comments were heard from the public on a few aspects of the resolution.  After changes to the document were made and read, a vote was taken to approve the amended version of the resolution.  All in favor were:  Commissioner Allen-Pyne, Commissioner Fleming, Commissioner Finney, Commissioner Wasfi, Commissioner Monroe, and Commissioner Sudler.

B:  Bylaws & Mission Statement:  There was no discussion on either.



VII:  New Business:  No new business.



IX:  Announcements:  Next DHRC meeting scheduled for February 24, 2010.



X:  Adjournment: The meeting ended at 9:05 p.m.