Franklin Becomes The Fifth Massachusetts Community To Form A Local Freedom Team
In the wake of 2020’s racial unrest, a broad coalition of Franklin community leaders came together to form a Freedom Team with the mission of ‘preserving freedom through unity in the community.’ The team’s members meet monthly to explore ways of offering dialogue and support to individuals and the entire community with a goal of promoting love, inclusion, and trust (“LIT”).
“We, as a Town, are a community through unity,” explains Jamele Adams, Franklin resident and founder of the Freedom Team network. “And if anything happens in the community that is rooted in bias, instead of trying to figure out who to call and how to respond, we want a team to already be in place. We want a team that is proactive, reactive, and retroactive.”
Franklin Freedom Team membership follows the network’s Community 10-Point Connection Model which includes diverse community representatives, including parents, students, educators, town and school local officials, clergy, a lawyer, a trauma-informed clinician, a transformative justice facilitator, and a social media expert. In addition to their regular meetings, the Team hosts a hotline and email for residents to contact if they have experienced or witnessed bias-motivated threats, harassment, or violence. The Team promises to “offer a private and respectful space to discuss the incident using a transformative justice model not only to try to repair the harm through inclusion, trust, and equity, but also to educate and strengthen the community.”
To date, the group has met virtually every month throughout 2021 and their members have helped organize community conversations on police reform, inclusion in early education, and youth AAPI experiences. The group was in immediate dialogue following last month’s news of a swastika found in Franklin High School.
Mr. Adams, the group’s founder, is no stranger to promoting ‘LIT-ness’ in majority-White communities. Longtime Dean of Students at Brandeis University and current Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Scituate Public Schools, Adams first helped found a Freedom Team while living in Natick back in 2016. The success of the initial team – captured in a 2017
TEDx talk by Adams (https://youtu.be/pCkyrxruNaQ) – has since inspired Hopkinton, Waltham, Wellesley, and now Franklin to form similar coalitions in their communities. (More teams are in development.)
The current membership of Franklin’s Freedom Team includes:
● jamele adams, founder and transformative justice facilitator
● Sara Ahern, Superintendent of Franklin Public Schools
● Rabbi Tom Alpert, Temple Etz Chaim
● Camille Napier Bernstein, community advocate
● Justin Bates, co-founder of Franklin Area Against Racism
● Cobi Frongillo, Town Councilor
● Jamie Hellen, Franklin Town Administrator
● Elise Howell, clinician
● Chief TJ Lynch, Franklin Police Department
● Rev. Kathy McAdams, Rector of St John's Episcopal Church and President of the Franklin Interfaith Council
● Angelina Perez, student
● Judith Perez, parent
● Angela Snyder, lawyer
● Meghan Whitmore, community advocate
To report hate, bias-motivated threats, harassment, and violence, residents of Franklin are urged to call the hotline (508-507-9693) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents who fear for their immediate safety or have an emergency should call 911 immediately.