Local school systems and governments affirmed their support for immigrants and refugees this week, in light of Donald Trump’s campaign and election as the next president of the United States.
In a message posted on social media and the Durham Public Schools website in English and Spanish on Thursday, Superintendent Bert L’Homme said the district is a safe and supportive system for “those who have been Durham residents for a long time, those who are new here, those who speak English as a second language, and those who are refugees.”
“DPS reflects Durham’s values of inclusion and respect,” the statement continued, adding that school counselors are available “to support any student who has concerns following our recent elections.
The message, which was also shared with families via a robocall Thursday, was in response to anecdotal reports of attendance dropping Wednesday for students who speak English as a second language, said DPS spokesman Chip Sudderth.
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About 28.5 percent of DPS students are Hispanic, according to the district website.
Durham Tech President William G. Ingram and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Interim Superintendent Jim Causby released similar statements thsi week.
On Monday, Jihad Shawwa of Raleigh came to Durham to thank City Council members for their resolution condemning violence and hate speech against Muslims.
“Durham has the name of city of medicine,” said Shawwa, 64. “Durham is the Bull City. And now I will call Durham, city of justice, city of love, city of tolerance.”
The City Council adopted the resolution Monday night condemning “all hateful speech and violent action” directed at the more than 3 million Muslims in the U.S. and the estimated 2,000 living in Durham. Muslims and Muslim Americans have been “the explicit target of hateful and dangerous rhetoric by one of the presidential candidates,” the resolution states.
“In the face of this inflammatory hate speech, Durham’s Muslim communities are using the teachings of Islam to promote peace, justice and service, and their institutions are continuing to play an essential role providing charitable and humanitarian services,” the resolution states. “We, as elected representatives of the people, have a special responsibility to speak up in the face of hateful speech, violence or discrimination against any of our constituents.”
At the start of the Durham City Council work session Thursday, Councilman Charlie Reece emphasized the city’s values of inclusion, opportunity and equality for all people in this city.
“I know there are a lot of people in this community who are scared today. I’ve heard from them,” he said. “I want to make sure that every one in this city understands ... this city is and will continue to be a place where all people are welcomed, all people are valued and all people are protected.”