News Spotlight

New Gloucester’s first Black selectman says it’s time to talk about racism

Dustin Ward reflects on his own experiences and what it means to be the first Black person on the board.

| Emma Sorkin, Lakes Region Weekly |

Dustin Ward wants to smooth the way for tough conversations about race, racism and equity in New Gloucester. As the town’s first and only Black man elected to the town’s Board of Selectmen, he also hopes to set an example on how to use his platform for that difficult conversation.

“I’m elated, I’m delighted, and now I can use that as a way to encourage other people of color to make their own history in their own towns and their own spaces,” Ward said.

Ward runs a consulting business to assist clients with racism education and best practices for racial equity in their businesses, schools, churches and municipal governments. The Falmouth town manager, a client, calls him a mentor.

Ward grew up in Presque Isle as the adopted child of two white parents in a state that is 94.4% white, according to 2019 census data. It was in Presque Isle, the commercial center of the famously rural Aroostook County, that he dreamed of being the first Black president. His path to politics was an uneasy and sometimes winding road, informed, in part, by his earlier experiences of being Black in an overwhelmingly white community.

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