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Call to `Undo Racism' Echoes in Cities across Nation

By Liedtke, Cyndy | Nation's Cities Weekly, September 25, 2000 | Go to article overview

Call to `Undo Racism' Echoes in Cities across Nation


Liedtke, Cyndy, Nation's Cities Weekly


Wichita Mayor Bob Knight, president of the National League of Cities, asked the nation at a rally in Washington, D.C., last week if it was ready to be part of the solution to undo racism.

"Our efforts can not succeed until there is both awareness and determination to take action, individually, collectively and above all, sincerely, from deep within," Knight told participants at the Undoing Racism Rally just blocks from the White House.

The rally came exactly 150 years after passage of a law abolishing the slave trade in Washington.

The Washington rally served as the national focal point for events throughout the country and launched NLC's Campaign to Promote Racial Justice.

"Today we urge all Americans to shed their fears, set aside their suspicions and hostilities, open their hearts and speak freely and honestly in a broad and continuing dialogue," Knight said.

More than 400 cities joined the effort to raise awareness of issues of racism by declaring Sept. 20 Undoing Racism Day or joining NLC's Campaign to Promote Racial Justice. The names of these 400 cities adorned a proclamation in support of Undoing Racism Day that was signed at the rally.

Knight was joined at the rally by national and local leaders in civil rights issues, including NLC Second Vice President Karen Anderson, mayor of Minnetonka, Minn., U.S. Conference of Mayors President Brent Coles, mayor of Boise, Idaho, Ben Johnson, director of the President's Initiative for One America, Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Arkansas), Debra Carr, chair of the White House Task Force, World Conference Against Racism and Sonia Jarvis of George Washington University.

Knight told the crowd gathered at Freedom Plaza they might be wondering why a white Republican from Kansas was leading an Undoing Racism Rally in Washington, D.C. He expressed his commitment to continuing to undo the injustice of racism in America.

"In my mind there us no more important test of white integrity than to act to heal the scars that racism has left on this country," Knight said. "There is no room for racism in America."

Jarvis revved the crowd up by asking them, "Are you ready," playing on the rally theme, "Are You Ready to be Part of the Solution?"

"What can you do to change the politics and policies to undo racism," she asked, declaring education the key to undoing racism. She asked people to think about the actions they take, how they encourage their children to interact, who they invite to their homes, to combat racism on a personal level.

"This is an important first step in standing up and saying no to racism," Jarvis said.

Johnson applauded NLC for encouraging cities to eliminate racism in America, expressing support from the Clinton Administration's "One America" initiative.

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