DC Office of Human Rights Newsletter | Volume XXIX | February 2021
In its early form, Black History Month (BHM) started as Negro History Week on February 7, 1926, launched by famed Black historian and author Carter G. Woodson. Since that time the month-long celebration of the many and varied contributions of African Americans to U.S. history has grown to include recognition from global brands like Nike, sports leagues like the National Basketball Association and media outlets across the globe. In light of the many uprisings and demonstrations for racial justice and equity that occurred over the summer and fall, OHR strongly encourages each of you to have that sometimes difficult and sometimes awkward racial conversation with family, friends and colleagues. Take a look at these resources provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to get the dialogue started. Additionally, be sure to celebrate the rich history of African Americans in this country by attending an event or workshop, supporting black-owned businesses and learning more about the varied contributions of African Americans both throughout history and in the present day.

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Last year in celebration of BHM, OHR produced a few videos aiming to create inter-generational dialogue about the importance of Black History and how best to preserve it in a city that is rapidly changing.. Please watch them here and here and be sure to follow us on Instagram.

Happy Black History Month!
Trait of the Month: Color
This protected trait makes it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their skin pigmentation or complexion. For more information or to file a complaint, visit our website; ohr.dc.gov.
Residents 65 and Older Can Now Get a COVID-19 Vaccine
Beginning January 11th, DC residents aged 65 and older can make an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine through the vaccinate.dc.gov portal or by calling the District’s coronavirus call center at 855-363-0333. Residents can schedule a vaccination through the call center or 311 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Vaccinations for Making your vaccination appointment will only take about 5 minutes! The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. Getting vaccinated is the key to safely reuniting with our friends and families and getting our lives back, but once vaccinated, please remember to use caution and continue to practice social distancing, good hygiene, as well as wearing a mask 😷. Together we can get through this pandemic.
Navigating Hate: Unity & Healing Through Community
Join us for an evening dedicated to healing our community.

The DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) and Commission on Human Rights, in collaboration with the DC Office of the Attorney General's High School Advisory Council (HSAC), will host an evening of dissecting and processing the current cultural and political landscape, and inspiring DC youth as they shape their own futures.

The distinguished panelists include community leaders and professionals whose life work focuses on social equity and progress. Navigating hate requires teamwork across industries and we are thrilled to learn from their expertise.
OHR Releases 2019 Language Access Compliance Review

Last month, the Language Access Program, housed within the DC Office of Human Rights released its 2019 Compliance Review. The report intends to inform elected leaders, government officials, advocates and the public about the compliance of District government agencies with the requirements of the DC Language Access Act of 2004. The Act requires that all District agencies, and service providers contracted by agencies, provide interpretation services for customers who are Limited English Proficient (LEP) or Non-English proficient (NEP). Translation of vital documents, training for personnel in public contact positions and tracking of LEP/NEP customers are also required by the Act.
Director's Note
Dear DC Residents, Stakeholders and Partners, 

I am so pleased to rejoin the OHR team and continue leading the important mission of the agency.
This new year has already tested our strength as a city and as a democracy but thankfully we are all still standing and our federal government forges on. I am so thankful that the rule of law and due process have survived.
OHR has survived and thrived as well. Despite the pandemic, our agency has continued our work to identify and end discrimination, increase equal opportunity, and protect human rights for persons who live in or visit the District of Columbia. We issued critical guidance on COVID-19 Leave under the D.C. Family & Medical Leave Act of 1990 (DCFMLA), we removed the notarization requirement for charges of discrimination to make it easier for individuals to file complaints and we moved to all virtual mediations to ensure that cases continue to move forward.

None of this would be possible without the hard work and dedication of the OHR staff. And I am honored to be able to lead this dynamic group once again. They have answered the call of public service resoundingly, despite the many changes to daily operations and functions.

I am truly hopeful that as we rebuild our lives and our city, we will make it more inclusive, diverse, and equitable than ever before. We still do not fully know the lasting impacts that this pandemic will have, but together, we can chart a new unified path to a safer, stronger DC.

Happy Black History Month, DC!

In service,
Mónica Palacio, Director
DC Office of Human Rights | 202.727.4559 | ohr.dc.gov