Erica Fields, the executive director of the Dayton HRC, discussed a variety of topics ranging from the history of HRC, community-police relations, the known future and more in a journey leading towards equity and fairness for the Dayton community.
Background of the Dayton HRC
Human Relations Councils were created across the United States in the midst of the Golden Era of civil rights activism in America to address civil unrest during the Civil Rights Movement. In May 1962, former Dayton City Commissioner Don Crawford created the Dayton HRC, Fields said.
Commissioner Crawford was the first black commissioner elected to the Dayton City Commission and “very influential” in the creation of the HRC.
As civil rights has changed, the face of civil rights has changed in Dayton and across the country, but the need for civil rights enforcement, the need for advocating for advocating for civil and human rights has not changed. We are still facing the same issues and effects of racism, that we were in the 60s; in education, in housing, and the ability for folks to get loans and employment, but it just looks different.Executive Director Erica Fields, Dayton HRC
Fields says the Dayton HRC has jurisdiction inside of the city of Dayton, but has effective partnerships outside of the city limits to create a “collective voice” for human rights.
Equal Rights and Fairness for All
The HRC held the Fair Housing Symposium in October, which was an event for the public to hear from speakers to learn vital information on discrimination, fair housing and more.
One of the aspects the HRC focuses on for housing is the ability to create a better environment for people when it comes to housing, Fields says. Finding the best resources and creating the best practices to affirmatively further fair housing is something that will benefit community members in Dayton.
Some residents in the Miami Valley may be unaware that the HRC is a governmental organization, but also works with government at the federal level.
In order to create a better environment, the HRC interacts with different organizations to try and make a change for the better:
- Recommend policies to elected officials
- Work closely with elected officials to find trends, issues and community input
- Inform Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for trends and what the Dayton area is seeing on the local level
- Working to receive necessary supplies from the government to properly operate for the community
According to the Dayton HRC, the organization has collaborative partnerships, which are important to the community. The City of Dayton has something called an eviction task force, which the HRC looks at the housing crisis in order to protect both landlords and residents.
HRC works with the Miami Valley Fair Housing Center, which is one of their main partners.
Fields says looking at other jurisdictions to see the differences, since people move throughout, changing hearts and minds and educating people why the work the Dayton HRC does is important for equal protections and a fair shot of receiving an employment opportunity is something the HRC focuses on.
We’re driven by a mission to promote, influence and ensure fair treatment, inclusion and equal access to opportunities. That is our charge and our specific authority allows us to – investigate and adjudicate complaints of discrimination.Executive Director Erica Fields, Dayton HRC
To accomplish the goal of decreasing the levels of discrimination, if any would be found, is to either issue damages to the decided party or to issue a suggestion of policy changes that need to be made to an individual, landlord or organization.
The city of Dayton experienced a period of time in recent years where it experienced a time of police reform initiatives. One of the initiatives that concluded from the discussion was the “Know Your Rights and Responsibilities” discussion forums, which the HRC was put in charge of.
In 2023, “Know Your Rights and Responsibilities” forums will be held during 2023 on a monthly basis in order to help people further understand what do do in certain situations and to have any questions answered. Events will be held throughout the city of Dayton.
“When you’re quite frankly scared that you might not walk away from the incident, you know, we really want to make sure to keep people safe, and so we want to make sure that people are aware of what their rights are in an interaction, and so they’re aware of what not to do in an interaction, because we want both parties being safe at the end of the day.”
The executive director says that for the year of 2023, the organization will focus more on the younger community, more specifically young black men to get them more involved.
We know that there’s a large issue of concern and mistrust with our young community, our young adult community, specifically our black males, and so what do we do to begin to build that trust, but then to also what I said, quite frankly, make sure our black males come home safe.Executive Director Erica Fields, Dayton HRC
Get into Contact
If you want to learn more about the Dayton HRC, file a complaint, or for any questions, there are a few ways you can get into contact with the HRC:
You can visit 371 W. Second St., #100 in Dayton.
You can pick up your phone and call (937) 333-1400.
Online or App
Visit their website here or search your mobile app store for “Dayton Human Relations Council”.