Mayor's Social Justice Task Force Aims to Be Catalyst for Change

Article excerpt

In response to NLC's March 2000 Campaign to Promote Racial Justice, more than 225 cities took steps to create urban environments within which all individuals would feel respected and valued. In this series of articles, NLC looks at some of these cities two years later, to give them an opportunity to share their accomplishments and ongoing efforts to reduce racism and promote racial justice in their cities.

In Auburn, N.Y., a city of 30,000, NLC's Campaign to Promote Racial Justice was the catalyst for the formation of its Social Justice Task Force, convened in January 2001 by the Auburn City Council. The formation of the Social Justice Task Force was preceded by a public gathering to discuss the affects on racism on Auburn residents, a public seminar for parents and children entitled "Raising Tolerant Kids," and the mayor's convening of a roundtable of community leaders to discuss hiring practices and policies of local employers.

The 2001 annual report from the city of Auburn's Social Justice Task Force identified the formation of the task force and establishment of its focus and direction for the future as key accomplishments over the past year. According to the task force's annual report, "There are very few groups of this type anywhere, and certainly not in small cities like ours; there were no models for us. Creating something from nothing was a major task requiring several months of discussion, team and consensus-building, and prioritization."

The task force's work paid off. During the first year members visited local churches to explain the group's mission--to explore and expose social justice needs of the community, raise awareness and provide information to make Auburn a better place to live. …