Racial justice commission submits challenging report

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Mayor Linda Gorton today received the final report of the Mayor’s Commission for Racial Justice and Equality from Commission co-chairs Roszalyn Akins and Dr. Gerald L. Smith.

The 68-page report is the work of a group of 70 local citizens. Gorton asked the group to seek solutions that will dismantle systemic racism in Fayette County.

“Commission members have put together an in-depth report that pulls off our city’s rose-colored glasses, and takes a hard look at the racism that holds us back,” said Gorton, who thanked each Commission member. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but I have confidence in our citizens. We can make the changes we need to make to become a place where everyone is, where everyone feels, welcome and safe; where everyone has the opportunity to get a good education and a good job.”

“We believe the Report addresses the marginalization of African Americans in Lexington-Fayette County, and provides thoughtful and detailed solutions that will help with the dismantlement of systemic racism in this community,” said Akins and Smith.

When Gorton appointed the Commission on July 1 she put it on a tight timetable. “I thought there were things we could act upon quickly, and the Commission has identified several short-term goals.”

The Commission also made more complicated recommendations that will require more work.

“It’s clear we need a permanent voice in our City to help us keep moving forward,” Gorton said. “So my first step today is to announce I will work with the Council to appoint a new, permanent Commission for Racial Justice and Equality.”

The report includes 54 recommendations that touch all corners of the community, including schools, police, healthcare, courts, jobs, housing, accountability, partnerships and more. Some require funding; others involve a change in state law.

The recommendations were made by the Commission’s five subcommittees, Racial Equity; Education & Economic Opportunity; Health Disparities; Law Enforcement, Justice & Accountability; and Housing & Gentrification.

Subcommittee members included councilmembers, educators, business and civic leaders, health and human service professionals, community advocates and volunteers, faith-based leaders, and criminal justice officials.

The Commission grew out of the racial unrest that has sparked protests in cities across the country, including Lexington. “I remain convinced that this is our time to make progress; to move forward,” Gorton said. “In this report the Commission has provided a challenging road map. Now we need everyone to pile in the car so we can get started on this journey together.”

The report and all meetings of the Commission are available on-line here.