Common Ground Sister City- Tuskegee, Alabama

Tuskegee Wall
The entrance of the Town Hall in South Berwick pays tribute to our "Sister City" Tuskegee, AL

Two Hands One Heart

Common Ground History

In 2016 a group of South Berwick citizens, dismayed over the increase in racial tensions in our country, embarked on a unique experience by asking Tuskegee, Alabama, a predominantly Black community, to join South Berwick as a “sister city”. Both communities are roughly the same size, are historic and proud of their history, actively celebrate civic pride and share an economic history based on shipping and textiles created wealth for New England that was dependent on the slave and cotton economy of the South.

Tuskegee responded favorably and a similar citizens group was created. Both the South Berwick Town Council and the Tuskegee City Council unanimously approved a proclamation officially creating the sister city relationship. Since then a lot has happened:

  • Several organized groups from both communities have traveled to their sister city for multi-day visits. Visitors stay in guest homes, experience the history and cuisine of the community and participate in local events.
  • Individuals and families have visited back and forth creating friendships and bonds.
  • The Together We Vote Project recorded the voting experiences of 100 citizens from each community.
  • Color Us Connected offers a social commentary with two perspectives; one by a White South Berwick resident and another by a Black resident of Tuskegee. These are published bi-weekly by local newspapers in both communities.
  • A Tuskegee historian spent a week in South Berwick visiting every school in the district to share his knowledge about Tuskegee and the struggle for civil rights.
  • There are ongoing dialogues between students in MSAD35 and the Tuskegee Schools.
  • South Berwick has created a mural celebrating our common ground that will be painted on a wall in Tuskegee.
  • The project has been featured in local news in both states, a national magazine and the CBS Nightly News.
  • The Town of South Berwick placed a visual display celebrating Tuskegee at the entrance to Town Hall.
  • Recently a group from South Berwick traveled to Tuskegee, and together with a Tuskegee delegation crossed the bridge in Selma, Alabama commemorating the 59th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”, the singular event in this country's struggle for voting rights.

Common Ground Mission
The mission of the American Sister City Project is to cultivate an environment for citizens of two communities, one predominantly Black and the other predominantly White, to talk, listen and engage with each other to improve and sustain better race relations.

To get to a place in our hearts and our lives where our racial differences are celebrated, and not feared.

Enrichment -Experience each others' communities to gain insight into the respective cultures, traditions and perspectives.
Understanding -Expand our perspectives on our racial identities and different experiences as Americans.
Dialogue -Foster and support respectful communication about history, privilege, fear, and equity in America.
Celebration -Strive for familiarity and comfort so friendship and joy can thrive.

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Tuskegee visit 6/8/2023
Harvey Mattox, Sandy Taylor, Town Manager-Timothy Pellerin, and Assistant Town Manager-Jennifer Janelle.

Common Ground Sister City Proclamation 

More information can be found at Common Ground Sister Cities.
Common Ground is a SoBoCentral organization.