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Mayors Will Address Intractable Policy Challenges Facing Municipalities
WASHINGTON, DC— Over 150 participants including African American Mayors, Members of Congress, and Administration officials convened at the African American Mayors Association Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. last week, to discuss and develop solutions to a variety of intractable policy challenges facing the nation’s cities. The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) is the only organization exclusively representing the over 500 African-American mayors across the United States.
Kansas City Mayor, Sly James, was sworn-in as the new AAMA President on Friday. He said, “We must keep our citizens safe by taking guns out of the hands of those who commit crimes; support civil rights laws that treat all members of our communities with fairness and dignity; provide access to early childhood education that ensures all children are able to read at grade level; and embrace technology as a driving force in our communities.”
At this year’s conference, the Mayors committed to fierce advocacy for the passage of a federal criminal justice reform bill to create local programs to support citizens reentering their communities from the criminal justice system, and to dedicate resources to improving the relationship between citizens and law enforcement. The Mayors also met with officials at The White House to discuss the advancement of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative; the obstruction of Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court; and to advocate for improvements in the federal process for ensuring that resources for disaster relief more quickly and effectively reach the communities they are intended to serve.
The conference theme, “The Urgency of Now”, is a reflection on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s description of our nation’s tumultuous socio-political environment at the time that he delivered his “I have a Dream” speech in 1963, and a recognition that the need for change in African American communities remains urgent over 50 years later.
U.S. Secretary of Education, John B. King; Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC); Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO); and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Gina McCarthy, were among a host of other high-level federal officials who participated in the conference this year. Conference sessions focused on addressing the overrepresentation of African Americans in the criminal justice system; the degradation of the educational system in African American communities; the alarming rates at which African Americans suffer community violence; and addressed ways in which cities can partner with the private sector to provide jobs and resources to their communities.
“We have great momentum and I will pursue many of the priorities we advanced during the past year,” said Mayor James. “Criminal justice reform will remain a primary legislative priority for AAMA, and I will be a tireless advocate for sentencing reform and other criminal justice measures that are supported by facts, fairness and reality.”
The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) is the only organization exclusively representing over 500 African-American mayors across the United States. AAMA seeks to empower local leaders for the benefit of their citizens. The role of the AAMA includes taking positions on public policies that impact the vitality and sustainability of cities; providing mayors with leadership and management tools; and creating a forum for member mayors to share best practices related to municipal management.