Dear California City Leaders,
Eight minutes and 46 seconds. It’s been a year since we witnessed the senseless death of George Floyd, a father, a son, a brother, and a friend. His brutal death sparked a movement with local leaders, police officers, citizen protesters, and others coming together to stand for the common causes of equity and justice in California and our nation. Collectively, we pledged to harness the unity of the moment to rebuild trust lost and work together for a better tomorrow for all Californians, regardless of the color of their skin, because Mr. Floyd deserved nothing less.
Earlier this year, the justice system honored Mr. Floyd’s life by holding accountable an individual responsible for his death. While the verdict doesn’t erase the pain and suffering of Mr. Floyd’s family or solve the longstanding issues of systemic inequities that exist in our country, it does offer some accountability on the road towards meaningful justice and equitable treatment for all.
Beyond the verdict, there are additional signs of progress. I’m proud of the League of California Cities board, which released a powerful statement
in June 2020 committing to doing the hard work to “create an equitable and just future for all Californians” and the local leaders around the state who are putting these words into action adopting resolutions to advance equity, organizing community listening sessions, rolling out trainings, and reimagining public safety.
I’m also proud to lead an organization that is committed to supporting and promoting local efforts to eliminate disparities, heal racial divisions, and build more equitable communities. At Cal Cities, with the full support of our board, we continue to develop and offer multiple resources and trainings for city officials looking to advance equity and root out racism in their communities. In February 2021, the board voted to create an Advancing Equity Advisory Committee to shape and prioritize Cal Cities’ work to support local officials’ efforts to advance equity in their communities. During its April meeting, the board unanimously adopted the Advancing Equity Advisory Committee’s recommendations
. Cal Cities staff will now develop and implement the recommendations. Cal Cities' new programming will build on the content that we've delivered over the past year, which incldues webinars, conference sessions, and peer-to-peer roundtables dedicated to building equitable communities.
In addition, Western City
magazine devoted a special issue
to advancing equity in December 2020. Advancing equity will now be an annual themed issue. City officials can access all of these resources on a dedicated Cal Cities webpage
Our Cal Cities members have done a lot in a year to build more equitable and just communities. Thank each and every one of you for the work you have done and continue to do. All of us at Cal Cities are honored to be your partner on this journey.
I said it a year ago, and it remains true today: “The time to act is now.”
Carolyn M. Coleman
Executive Director and CEO
League of California Cities