The Human Rights Commission (HRC) was established in 1969. It is comprised of 11 members and a non-voting student member, 18 years old or under. Commissioners must live in Howard County and represent the diversity of county residents. The duties and responsibilities of the Commission are prescribed by law and include recommending a civil rights policy to the County Executive and the County Council. This includes having the authority to conduct surveys and studies concerning civil liberties in order to promote equality in the community. In addition to hosting the annual HRC awards, they support OHRE outreach activities.
The Howard County Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission (MLK) was established by order of the Howard County Executive to encourage and coordinate appropriate ceremonies and activities honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Commissioners are appointed by the County Executive to serve an initial term of two years. Each year, the MLK celebration takes place on the third Sunday of January. The Day of Service takes place the next day on the third Monday of January. The Day of Service provides a variety of service opportunities throughout the community that is representative of Dr. King’s dedication to servant leadership.
The County Executive established La Alianza Latina as a workgroup during Hispanic Heritage Month in September of 2020. The goals of the workgroup are to promote diversity and civility and address many of the concerns and struggles that the Latino and immigrant communities experience. The workgroup is comprised of 16 Howard County residents, representing a variety of backgrounds throughout Central and South America. La Alianza Latina aims to assist constituents and educate them on certain services and programs that may seem out of reach – such as accessing community resources, starting a business, or purchasing a home.
The Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) workgroup advises the Howard County Executive on policy initiatives and advocates on issues that affect the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Consisting of 18 members, in addition to the honorary chair, Maryland State Senator Clarence Lam; AAPI hosts public quarterly meetings and presents biannual reports. AAPI organizes cultural events and has informative discussions on emerging issues. It is with the hope that these conferences will foster stronger relationships between the AAPI and the community. The workgroup is dedicated to creating a safe place where AAPI residents feel valued and heard in the community.
The Howard County LGBTQ+ Workgroup was established on November 1, 2019. County Executive Calvin Ball signed an Executive Order to create an LGBTQ+ (Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer+) Workgroup to promote the shared community values of diversity and civility. The Workgroup partnered with county agencies non-profit organizations, and other community groups to facilitate an environment of inclusion, communication, understanding, and respect throughout Howard County.
LGBTQ+ Workgroup held quarterly meetings that were open to the public and provided a yearly report to the County Executive that addressed and identified current and emerging issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community.
LGBTQ+ Workgroup terminated on April 1, 2021.