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How Cities Can Advance Racial Equity Through Community Conversations

August 11, 2016  |  Aileen Carr

The National League of Cities (NLC) has been working with the White House and U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) to encourage local officials to convene 100 community conversations on race relations, justice, policing and equality. NLC’s work on this project reflects their broader commitment to race and equity, which is embodied in NLC's Race, Equity And Leadership initiative (REAL). REAL is NLC’s effort to equip its membership with the capacity to respond to racial tensions in their communities, identify the systemic barriers that sustain racial injustice in the nation’s cities, and build more equitable communities.

NLC member cities have accepted the call from President Obama, and NLC has exceeded its goal. To date, 105 cities have committed to hosting White House Community Conversations, and the White House has convened more than 300 local law enforcement agencies from around the country to discuss community policing. REAL staff have been actively engaging with and supporting city leaders as they plan their convenings as well as offering consultation and technical assistance with framing dialogues effectively, developing agendas, engaging a diverse range of stakeholders, and identifying facilitation support.

Efforts to bring politicians, police, activists and community members to discuss racial tensions can be a great first step toward real progress on racial equity in cities. Such progress is possible when the dialogues are sustained over time and a wide range of stakeholders are included to create opportunities for healing.
Read more on the NLC Cities Speak blog about what's been learned about what’s working from Wichita, Kansas; Seattle and Tacoma, Washington; New Orleans; and Minnesota.