March 12, 2018-
Last December, after he was sworn in as mayor of Durham, North Carolina, Steve Schewel laid down his vision for a city where elected officials work alongside residents to resist regressive state and federal policy. Durham, said Schewel—a bowtie-wearing former alternative-newspaper publisher—should be a city “that puts racial and economic justice at the top of our civic agenda; that defends the vulnerable among us; that cherishes robust, respectful debate on difficult questions; that believes science is real; that embraces nonviolence.”
He peppered his English with Spanish and Arabic and spoke directly to refugees, undocumented immigrants, and LGBTQ folks. “If you are a gender-nonconforming kid who’s trying to figure it out, we embrace you in Durham. We want you and we love you. If you are a transgender person, come to Durham, because we don’t care what bathroom you choose.” This was welcome language in a state that has seen a raft of legislation rolling back civil rights and voting rights, and shredding the social safety net.