Since it first opened its doors earlier this year, the Champlain Area National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has received a slew of discrimination complaints.
Many of those complaints involve discrimination when it comes to renting or buying a house.
“Some of the reports are just basic discrimination when individuals go for a rental property. They are told that it is not available,” says Mary Brown-Guillory, the president of the Champlain Area NAACP.
She says there have been incidents in which people of color contacted their local realtor looking for a home and were shown houses far below the price range they were approved for, and in less desirable neighborhoods.
Brown-Guillory also spoke at town meetings in South Burlington as the high school considered — and decided against — retiring the “Rebel” mascot. She says when she moved to Vermont the mascot had a confederate flag, and there was also a rebel soldier that would parade onto the field.
“Just in the last two months I have been told that students have worn shirts with the Confederate flag at South Burlington high school,” says Brown-Guillory.
“But what I find about change is, the change cannot come from outside of, say, the school, it has to come from inside the school. They have to want to change.”
Brown-Guillory says she found the language of “rebranding” that was used to discuss updating the mascot particularly offensive.
“I thought, 'How dare they have the audacity to try to redefine history?' It just shows that they operate from privilege instead of operating from empathy."
Brown-Guillory says that Vermont needed an organization like the NAACP chapter, where people can be heard no matter what issue they have.
Since the group officially opened its doors in Vermont in July, the organization has grown to more than 200 members.