The United States Conference of Mayors, led by President and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, and Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, convened prominent civil rights leaders and a delegation of the nation’s mayors to discuss a national agenda to protect civil rights and ensure economic inclusion. The group convened at the historic Gracie Mansion with host NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio around a common purpose and shared vision for creating a better future for Americans hardest hit by inequality.
The group committed to developing both a slate of local policy initiatives they can work to implement themselves and recommendations for action at the federal level, emerging with a series of short- and long-term imperatives including fights to domestic budget cuts that will stagnate earnings, household incomes and economic growth across all communities. The nation’s mayors and civil rights leaders also stressed the importance of ensuring the 2020 Census count is fair and accurate and combatting bigotry and hate while addressing racially motivated violence.
“Whatever your political leanings, there’s no denying that there is a paralysis in Washington, D.C. We can disagree about the cause, and we can disagree about the remedy, but one thing we are not going to disagree about is the fact that we can’t wait for it to resolve itself,” said Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League. “We are moving forward, and this is where we begin.”
“Mayors are closest to communities and prioritize people, not politics,” said US Conference of Mayors President Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans. “In the 1960s, when the Civil Rights movement was underway, people moved out of cities and into the suburbs, but now, the opposite is happening. As a result, mayors must be focused on policies and programs that lift up and benefit all of our communities and we don’t have time to wait on Washington. Here’s the reality, while we’d like to have the Federal government as a real partner, the greatness of America will stand in spite of what’s happening in Washington. If we build new partnerships and work together, we can change the way our country works through big issues like fairness, immigration reform, and economic security. We are confident that through the conversations we started today, we can find common ground, identify best practices and build a long and fruitful relationship that will significantly impact our country.”
In attendance at the meeting were Mayor Christopher Cabaldon (West Sacramento, Calif.), Mayor Greg Fischer (Louisville, Ky.), Mayor Michael Hancock (Denver, Co.), Mayor Toni Harp (New Haven, Conn.), Mayor Catherine Pugh (Baltimore), Mayor Allison Silberberg (Alexandria, Va.), Mayor Paul Solberg (Madison, Wis.), and Mayor Richard Thomas (Mount Vernon, NY).
Leadership from the US Black Chambers, Inc., National Coalition for Black Civic Participation, National Newspapers Publishers Association, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Immigration Law Center, Anti-Defamation League, Enterprise Community Partners, US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Action Network and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
“We are here because we are fighting for the soul of this country and the future of this country, said Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, SC and Vice President of the US Conference of Mayors. “Cities are where things are happening; 85% of Americans live in cities and 91% of the country’s GDP comes from cities. If we can come together, we can determine policies. It’s our job to tell the world we are greater than the sum of our parts.”
“Rarely have we seen a time where it was so important for mayors and civil rights leaders to come together,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Inequality is the crisis of our time. One underpinned by institutional and structural racism, and one that together we can work to solve. I am proud to be joined by a coalition of strong mayors and civil rights leaders who all know that cities are places of change. In a time of hostility towards cities from Washington, together we’ll lead the way.”
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