Commission for Racial Justice & Equality works on report

The Mayor’s Commission for Racial Justice and Equality has finished up its meetings, and is now putting together a report on ways to dismantle systemic racism in Fayette County. The report is expected to be submitted to Mayor Linda Gorton by mid-October, and released to the public later in the month.

“This group has done an incredible job, and I look forward to a report that will be a springboard for change in Lexington,” Gorton said. “I think the commission’s recommendations will help us prioritize, and improve our effectiveness.”

On June 15, Gorton appointed Roszalyn Akins, Executive Director of BMW Academy and civic leader, and Dr. Gerald Smith, University of Kentucky History professor and Pastor of Pilgrim Baptist Church, as commission co-chairs.

Akins and Smith, who have been a part of many of the subcommittee meetings, are now supervising the writing of the report. “Based on our many conversations with the vice-chairs” said Akins and Smith, “each of the subcommittees’ recommendations are thoughtful, engaging and a reflection of the overall commitment to address systemic racism in Fayette County.” 

With input from Akins and Smith, Gorton named 70 citizens to the Commission on July 1. The diverse group included five members of the Urban County Council, judges, educators, social workers, members of the faith community, business men and women, and more.

The Mayor asked the group to seek viable solutions that would dismantle systemic racism in Fayette County. The group was divided into 5 subcommittees, each with an area of concentration including Racial Equity; Education & Economic Opportunity; Health Disparities; Law Enforcement, Justice and Accountability; and Housing & Gentrification.

Gorton gave the group a 60-day deadline to submit recommendations. “I know that was ambitious, and I understand that change won’t happen overnight, but I am determined to make many improvements quickly. Then we can continue to make change as opportunities present themselves.”

The public watched on-line as the subcommittees worked through a total of 40 virtual meetings, all public. Views of all subcommittee meetings totaled 7,643 … an average of 191 views per subcommittee meeting (subcommittee meetings are on-line here). Citizens were also encouraged to submit ideas through email, and the subcommittees received over 100 emails. In addition, there were three 90-minute virtual town hall meetings.