They range from simple strategies such as reading to children daily, taking time to walk a mile and opening savings accounts to comprehensive campaigns to restore budget cuts to public education and to eliminate grocery story food deserts in low-income neighborhoods.
Those are among dozens of strategies and initiatives developed by the Colorado Black Round Table in a new report aimed at reversing decades of widening gaps between minority and white residents in Colorado in important measures of social progress. The measures include education, health, poverty, income and home ownership.
The report, entitled “Gaining ground in Colorado’s African American communities”, arose from last fall’s summit that brought community, political and education leaders from Colorado together to address the Rocky Mountain PBS I-News Losing Ground series.
The series found widening gaps in Colorado since the Civil Rights era in key economic and social measures.
“The admonishment to each one of us today and the shocking truth is that 50 years after (Martin Luther) King’s death, we are, on this very anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, still waging a war for fair and decent pay for workers in America,” Dorothy Hayden-Watkins, former head of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, writes in the introduction.
The 35-page report, compiled by Sharon Bailey, a round table leader and former Denver School Board member, lists recommendations for individuals, community groups and political leaders to pursue in each of the areas of education, voting rights, economic development, health and criminal justice.
Some of the key recommendations include:
- Quickly link students entering college with businesses for mentoring and internships.
- Help low-income residents gain sufficient resources for regular health checkups.
- Ensure that schools include financial literacy as a core curriculum and requirement for high school graduation.
In addition to the recommendations, the report includes a resource section listing studies, writings and links to organizations that are working to narrow the gaps.
The report stressed that the African American community is looking for solutions and not pointing fingers.
“We are engaged,” Hayden-Watkins wrote. “To be sure, ‘if not us, who? If not now, when?’ It is our solemn duty. It will be our legacy.”