That is why as a membership organization that provides assistance on all issues impacting North Carolina’s cities and towns, the NCLM believes it is mission-critical to engage in a way that enhances local leadership on race, equity and equity-related issues. By leading with our collective values, the NCLM recognizes we must, first and foremost, understand our own history and role in supporting systemic racism and inequities to move forward in a real and robust way. In order to have future-forward, viable and thriving economies, cities and towns must center racial equity in policymaking to potentially overcome the intergenerational disparities that exists in local communities.
A new report from the N.C. League of Municipalities’ Task Force on the Impact of City Leaders on Racial Equity calls on North Carolina cities and towns to examine past policies affecting minority homeownership, as well as engage in ongoing public discussions on race and policing practices as a part of broader efforts to address racial equity.
The report, the result of five months of work by the 14-member task force, was released Thursday during NCLM’s CityVision 2021 annual conference. The group was appointed by NCLM’s Board of Directors in July 2020 following board discussions surrounding the death of George Floyd, calls for racial justice and how the organization could respond in concrete, effective ways.
“Municipalities across the state are grappling with how to promote racial equity,” said outgoing NCLM President and Cary Town Council Member Jennifer Robinson, who co-chaired the task force. “The collective energy and effort of the task force members will, I hope, make it easier for all of the municipalities in North Carolina to tackle the hard conversations, take a good look at their policies and practices, and then step out to make real change.”
The task force’s examination and subsequent recommendations focused on areas including housing, policing, infrastructure location and leadership development. Its goal was to find ways that cities and NCLM could bring about change themselves, rather than calls for state or federal policy-level changes.
The report’s recommendations are:
Fuquay-Varina Town Commissioner William Harris, who co-chaired the task force, said he hopes the recommendations lead to “a greater awareness of the impact of systemic racism and how it affects the way elected leaders perceive themselves, and their responsibility to all citizens in promoting equity, fairness and justice.”
Harris, chosen this week as NCLM’s second vice president, said he foresees the organization providing consultation and educational tools that will foster change.
In addition to the co-chairs, other task force members who helped develop the report findings and recommendations are Newport Mayor Dennis Barber, Wilson Council Member Michael Bell, Fletcher Council Member Preston Blakely, Greenville Council Member Monica Daniels, Charlotte Council Member Malcolm Graham, Sedalia Mayor Pro Tem Valerie Jones, Monroe Mayor Bobby Kilgore, Banner Elk Mayor Brenda Lyerly, Winston-Salem Council Member Jeff MacIntosh, Durham Council Member Mark Anthony-Middleton, Morrisville Council Member Steve Rao and Highlands Mayor Patrick Taylor.
The full report can be found at https://www.nclm.org/RacialEquity.
The North Carolina League of Municipalities Board of Directors has established a 14-member task force that will examine practical steps that cities and towns can take to address racial inequities and related issues. Officially titled the Task Force on the Impact of City Leaders on Racial Equity, the group has established a goal of assisting cities in better understanding and improving local policies that affect racial equity.
“Our intent is to identify tangible actions each municipality can take when it comes to these challenges,” said Task Force Co-Chair Jennifer Robinson, who is NCLM president and council member for the Town of Cary. “Specifically, we want to ask and answer the following question: What are the ways NCLM can help our members have the tools and information they need to address racial equity and related issues for their cities and towns?”
NCLM Executive Director Paul Meyer expressed gratitude to all members for serving. He noted that cities and towns are best positioned to address primary issues around racial equity.
“Cities and towns have more at stake. Our members – elected officials and staff – see the effects. They have been working toward solutions and are committed to continuing to do so,” Meyer said. “This effort can bring about more widespread change.”
Harris, who co-chairs the task force, said bringing together a cross-section of local leaders from around the state is crucial in finding the best approaches.
“I look at each of us as stakeholders,” Harris told members on Friday. “Hopefully, out of this, we can build the consensus to move forward.”
Staff from the National League of Cities involved in its Race, Equity and Leadership initiative will assist in the task force’s work. The group expects to meet into the spring of 2021, producing recommendations at that time.