Racism is a Public Health Crisis
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was murdered in Minnesota under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin, sparking world-wide protests against excessive police brutality and a renewed call that Black Lives Matter. In response, Bellingham Public Library created this page with a wide variety of resources for kids and adults about race, ethinicty, racisim and anti-racism.
In November, 2020, The Whatcom County Council, acting as the Health Board, passed a resolution affirming that racism is a public health crisis in Whatcom County, joining other cities and counties across the state and the nation with this resolution and committing to take steps toward racial equity.
In April 2021, both the Whatcom County Council and the City of Bellingham Council passed an Interlocal Agreement to support, develop and fund a process to create recommendations on the establishment of a countywide Racial Equity Commission.
Juneteenth Celebration – June 19, 2021
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Juneteenth Celebrations are a positive platform for encouraging the acceptance of diversity and offer an opportunity to gain a better understand of the sacrifices and challenges enslaved Americans endured to achieve freedom.
In 2021, the US government designated Juneteenth as a federal holiday. The Bellingham Unity Committee invited the public to a free Juneteenth Celebration on Saturday June 19, 2021 at Maritime Heritage Park. The event included live Funk, Soul, R&B, Reggae music, dance performances, community step, community art wall, community organizations tabling, and more.
AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate
In a joint proclamation, Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu and City of Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood named May 18, 2021 to be AAPI Day Against Bullying and Hate in Whatcom County in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and in honor of Vincent Chin, who was brutally murdered in a hate crime in 1982. Read the full proclamation.
Arch of Healing and Reconciliation
On the northeast corner of the block containing Bellingham Central Library and Lee Memorial Park, the Arch of Healing and Reconciliation was established in 2018 in memory of Chinese, Indian and Japanese immigrants who were targeted and forcibly removed from Bellingham in 1885, 1907 and 1942. The Arch of Healing Monument honors immigrant communities and unity among all county residents. It also educates the public about this history.
Digital Storytelling: The Unrooted Experience
To encourage racial equity and understanding, Bellingham Public Library supported creation of a Digital Storytelling project titled The Unrooted Experience, a series of videos by local community members.
Coast Salish Day – Oct. 11, 2021
Recognizing that the Coast Salish Tribes, including the Nooksack Indian Tribe and the Lummi Nation have lived, worked and played in what is now Bellingham since time immemorial, in October, 2014, the Bellingham City Council passed Resolution 2014-33, officially declaring that the City of Bellingham will recognize the second Monday in October as Coast Salish Day.
The resolution further recognizes that the era of colonization and the genocidal actions of Christopher Columbus have led to historical trauma within various cultures and people, namely Coast Salish populations. Although the U.S. Government currently recognizes the second Monday in October as Columbus Day, the State of Washington does not. The City of Bellingham now recognizes it as Coast Salish Day.
Race and Social Equity
Bellingham Public Library stands with the Urban Libraries Council Statement on Race and Social Equity.