Launching of the U.S. Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination
As part of the Empowerment Week activities surrounding the 50th anniversary of the tragic events which marked the civil rights movement for equality in Birmingham (Alabama), the United States Conference of Mayors, in cooperation with UNESCO and the United States Department of State, will launch the U.S. Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination in Birmingham (Alabama), on 12 September 2013.
A 10-Point Plan of Action is being sent to mayors. They can join the Coalition by signing the 10-point plan, thereby committing to carry out the action steps the plan calls for.
The U.S. Coalition is part of the International Coalition of Cities against Racism and Discrimination, which was established by UNESCO in 2004 and is a global network of cities interested in sharing experiences in order to improve their policies to combat racism, discrimination, xenophobia, and exclusions. The U.S. Coalition joins other coalitions of cities which have formed in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Arab nations, and Asia and the Pacific. UNESCO will serve as its Secretariat.
As the United States Conference of Mayors has explained in convincing member cities to join, in the 50 years since the murder of Medgar Evers in Jackson, the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham which killed four young girls, and the march on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., much progress has been made in addressing past grievances and in assuring the civil and human rights of all Americans. Federal civil and voting rights laws have been passed and to a great extent implemented. But much remains to be done.
For all of the progress that has been made in civil rights in America, serious racial and ethnic disparities persist: Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to be poor than their white counterparts. Black children are three times more likely to be poor than white children. Black children are one and one-half times more likely to be uninsured than white children and twice as likely to die before their first birthday. Blacks and Hispanics have a higher unemployment rate than the white population.
Crime disproportionately affects black and Hispanic men and boys. Compounding the impact of incarceration statistics have on blacks and Hispanics are policies – in both the public and private sectors – which make it difficult, if not impossible, for people leaving prison to return to their communities, secure employment and housing, and become contributing members of society.
For decades America’s mayors have taken a strong position in support of civil rights and in opposition to racism and discrimination of all kinds. Their adopted policies have supported voting rights, affirmative action, fair housing, gay rights and same sex marriage, efforts to build tolerance and peacefully resolve conflict, and the integration of immigrants into their communities. They have opposed discrimination based on race, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age, and gender. They have opposed discrimination in employment and housing. They have opposed hate crimes and encouraged mayors to speak out against them whenever they occur. In more recent years they have also turned their attention to human trafficking and gender violence.
Individually, mayors and their city governments have worked to eliminate a broad range of discrimination in housing, employment, education, health care, city services, contracting, procurement, and other vital areas. As community leaders, many mayors have spoken out against discrimination and injustice when it has occurred and undertaken efforts to build tolerance and understanding within their local communities. In recent years, cities have undertaken efforts to integrate immigrants into their communities and adopted a variety of policies to include fully and treat equitably their LGBT residents.
Again, much progress has been made, but much still remains to be done.
The U.S. Coalition joins other coalitions of cities which have formed in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Arab nations, and Asia and the Pacific.