In November 2016, Mayor Steve Adler announced the formation of a task force comprised of several local representatives from business, education, and criminal justice to address institutional racism in Austin. The task force members formed five working groups to focus in key areas: Education; Real Estate & Housing; Health; Finance, Banking, & Industry; and Civil & Criminal Justice.
Mayor Adler asked Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, Huston-Tillotson University President, and Dr. Paul Cruz, Austin ISD Superintendent, to lead the effort in collaboration with over 200 community members. Collectively, the task force developed more than 200 recommendations that would attempt to create transparency in law enforcement, provide funding for housing inequalities, and provide a path to review Austin’s governmental policies that may perpetuate the systemic inequities.
Their mission involved work at three levels—individual, organizational and structural; and they maintain that progress must include a commitment from all other elected officials, along with CEO’s, executive directors, and other inhabitants of the C-Suite.
Initially their recommendation is for a commitment to collectively make the personal investment to:
- Engage in personal soul searching;
- Commit to life-long intensive training;
- Learn how to have courageous conversations about race;
- Develop a deeper consciousness and more expansive literacy about the impact of race in personal life;
- Commit to act as agent of change to de-institutionalize racism and eliminate racial disparities in Austin; and
- Build on the work of previous and current courageous activists.
Dr. Pierce Burnette and Dr. Cruz submitted the final report to the full council on April 6, 2017. They have acknowledged that this report is not the end, but rather continuing the community effort. The next phase of building on the great and sacrificial history of work led by many talented others, some of whom contributed to this current report, begins now.
The following is a link to the report presentation to Council, links some to news stories about the task’s force work, and a link to the website that houses the report:
- Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities: Council Work Session presentation & Report
- KXAN: “City unveils report on racism in housing, health and education”
- KEYE: “New report claims Austin suffers from 'systemic and institutional racism”
- KUT: “Here's How Austin Wants To Solve Institutional Racism”
- Statesman: “Racism task force seeks return of displaced people to gentrified areas”
- Chronicle: “City's Racism Task Force Unveils Report: Group focuses on five issues to combat institutional racism”