A Call to Action
A partnership between the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, the NAACP, and the William Monroe Trotter Institute of UMass Boston.
The State of Black Boston is a call to action, an effort to better understand the causes of racial inequality and disparity in the city of Boston and to collectively formulate strategies for addressing these challenges. It is a tool to assess, measure, and understand the nature of racial inequality among Bostonians.
The State of Black Boston is not only a compilation of data and stories from some of the city's key voices and civic participants about the nature and extent of racial inequality, but also ideas and strategies for resolving continuing racial gaps. More than just a reference document with extensive data depicting Black life in Boston, it will also serve as a means to facilitate community forums to investigate lessons learned with other strategies to overcome racial inequalities. Very importantly, it will act as a mechanism to help organize, leaders, elected officials, philanthropic institutions, and local residents to take action. In other words, the State of Black Boston will help to build a process for bringing the community and other sectors together to revitalize and renew an action agenda that will enable any necessary policy changes or new approaches aimed at resolving racial inequality in Boston. It is the hope of the sponsors that the State of Black Boston will be unveiled at the National Urban League conference in Boston in late July 2011.
What will take place during State of Black Boston (SOBB) 2013?
In 2013, there is great momentum to move this call to action forward. We have key stakeholders such as The Boston Foundation, the City of Boston, Delta Sigma Theta, and the Commonwealth Compact interested in helping us reduce these inequalities and equip more leaders to change the current status of Boston’s Black community. We will host three community forums this summer/fall comprised of these stakeholders, and community grassroots leaders to determine how to close the gap and achieve the goals in four areas showcased in the original SOBB report: health, education, employment, and economic development. We expect there to be anywhere from 50-150 people in attendance per meeting. Smaller working subcommittees may be formulated from the stakeholder meetings to take action on some of the recommendations post-community meeting.
We have chosen to advance these topics simultaneously because we believe that these four issues are interrelated and overlap so that when we progress in one area it may also positively affect the other. We want to make the greatest impact by having a multi-prong approach in order to experience effective and permanent change. These forums will be coordinated by Jacqui Conrad and Tulaine Montgomery who were our SOBB co-chairs in 2011 and have an extensive history in these areas with assistance from Darnell Williams from the Urban League.
Moreover we are deepening the project by combining our efforts with a strong public policy focus. We will have our annual SOBB Town Hall meeting in conjunction with a newly formed advocacy forum at the State House, which will empower grassroot leaders on how to effectively engage our State legislators in changing policies that affect Black Boston in those four focus areas. It will be similar to last year’s “Town Hall” meeting with an opening session, breakout workshops, keynote address, and networking/ strategy discussions. We have been working with Jim Shaer, who is our newest advocate, assisting in organizing our advocacy day at the State House. He has an extensive employment history working in government relations and community affairs with Senator John Kerry and Boston University. We also have Marvin Venay, who is the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Black & Latino Caucasus, help us bring together key legislators at the State House who will be engaged with this effort.
Following the conference and forums, there will be an active discussion on how to build upon the successes in 2013 and prepare for 2014. A long term goal is to mobilize the Latino population and release a State of Latino Boston report. In the current SOBB report, the data has revealed the status of our Latino residents at times is even more severe than our Black populace. We have a multi-cultural team leading SOBB, which brings a strong voice and desire to mobilize our Latino constituents into action. However, as part of this process of engaging this ethnicity we will need to educate and make them aware of what the data reveals, and similar to SOBB go through the process of compiling it into one, clear report and mobilize the community to be trained as leaders and jump into action. Over the course of this year, we will determine if this is the direction we will head in for 2014.
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