Saturday, April 1, 2023

Norfolk Creates Mayor’s Commission On Social Equity and Economic Opportunity

On June 4, Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander announced the formation of the Mayor’s Commission on Social Equity and Economic Opportunity. The Commission, according to Alexander, was formed “to examine, evaluate and discuss disparities in health, housing, education, employment, and economic opportunity and well-being among Norfolk’s residents.”

Alexander noted that the formation of the Commission is in direct response to the current unrest across the country and in Norfolk. 

“In the wake of recent tragedies involving police brutality and racially motivated violence, let’s continue to have our actions speak positively to the memory of those who have been tragically lost,” he said in a Facebook announcement. “Police brutality and hate crimes must stop and they will not find safe harbor in today’s Norfolk. For 338 years, Norfolk has struggled with its own history of human bondage, hate, racially motivated crime and violence, structural inequality, and poverty.”

The Commission will be vice-chaired by Norfolk City Councilwoman Andria McLellan. Each of the eight City Council members will recommend one person from the community to serve on the Commission.

Councilwoman McLellan commented in a Facebook post, “I’ve been interested in standing up a Norfolk Human Rights Commission for some time. While not exactly that, I believe this commission will cover most of my goals of an HRC, and I’m very excited and appreciate the opportunity to move forward on this.”

Norfolk’s city government has been under scrutiny recently for its lack of a Human Rights Commission or comparable organization to address the unique needs of its at-risk communities. As a result, the City has consistently scored lower than other cities in the HRC’s annual Municipal Equality Index.

Local LGBTQ activist and former interim Norfolk City Council member Nicole Carry praised the move as a step in the right direction. 

“Norfolk is perhaps the most diverse of all the Hampton Roads cities and has long needed a City-sanctioned commission to address the issues of each of our communities,” she said. “Now more than ever, it’s imperative that every municipality have a resource such as this  so that we can address issues before they lead to tragedy.”

“I applaud the Mayor and City Council for rising to the occasion with the creation of this Commission,” she said. “It demonstrates we are committed to equity, accountability, and human rights.”

This is an evolving story, and will continue to update you.

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