Author: Aliza R. Wasserman

In Grand Rapids, Neighborhoods Are the Cornerstone of Racial Equity

In 2015, Grand Rapids was home to about 40,000 African-Americans, who made up between 20 percent and 21 percent of the population. That same year, Forbes magazine listed Grand Rapids, Mich. as one of the worst places for African-Americans economically in the United States. But after the Michigan Department of Civil Rights released a report

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From Racial Equity and Repair, Strategies for Changing Policy Emerge

Repair. What does it mean to repair decades and centuries of ill-treatment, discrimination, exploited labor, death, and massacre? How do city, town, and village leaders grapple with the legacy of what governments have wrought on people of color and indigenous people throughout the United States in ways that are actionable, restorative, and authentic to the

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What Does It Take To Undo Historical Wrongs? Louisville Finds Out.

What began as a project by local urban planner and community organizer Joshua Poe quickly became a critical tool for understanding the interplay between the city’s history and its current outcomes. An interactive storymap created by Poe demonstrated how redlining and other real estate policies impacted the ability of communities of color to access jobs and

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Rochester Commits to Racial Equity

On January 22, 2019, Mayor Lovely Warren gathered with the National League of Cities Race, Equity And Leadership (REAL) Director Leon Andrews, former mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Betsy Hodges, and the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce to commit the City of Rochester’s time and resources to a new racial equity initiative. Mayor Warren issued a

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One Small City’s Big Steps to Undo Systemic Racism

The Village of Park Forest, Illinois was established in 1948 to house military veterans as the nation’s first planned community after World War II. Park Forest was initially designed as one of the few communities without restrictive covenants by religion. Building on that ten-year tradition, Park Forest was racially desegregated in 1959 when the first African-American

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How Cities Are Creating Opportunities for Racial Healing

2018 has been a critical year for the National League of Cities (NLC) Race, Equity and Leadership (REAL) initiative. REAL supports cities developing opportunities for racial healing through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation-funded project on Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation. Our cross-site convening in October brought together six city teams to learn from the unique work

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Cities Leading on Fair Housing

Cities across the country have demonstrated a commitment to fair housing. The federal government’s interpretation of  the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” provisions in the Fair Housing Act has changed significantly over the last 50 years. As the federal landscape around housing issues continues to fluctuate, cities have a new opportunity to lead, as they address the

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How Austin, Texas is Addressing Racial Equity

This is an NLC staff post by Aliza Wasserman and Chelsea Jones. The city of Austin, Texas, has been named the U.S News and World Report’s Best Place to Live and Forbes’ Next Biggest Boom Town in the U.S. But despite national accolades — and the city’s immense growth — Austin must face the historically

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State of the Cities: Leading the Way in Racial Equity Through Speech And Action

NLC’s 2017 State of the Cities analysis reveals how much mayors are using their public platforms to call attention to the issues of inequities based on race and ethnicity facing their cities. The Race, Equity And Leadership (REAL) initiative at NLC supports local elected officials to build a foundation on this first step to create

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Mayors Embrace Inclusive Values Amidst Hate

Mayors play an important role in reinforcing the values of their cities and their residents. When tensions and uncertainty across the nation are very high, mayors have a responsibility to remind us what we have in common, foster values of inclusivity, and reject hatred and violence. The implicit biases, or unconscious prejudices, wired into our

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