LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — One of Mayor Linda Gorton's subcommittees for her Commission for Racial Justice & Equality held their first meeting Friday morning to set their path for the next 60 days.
Gorton announced the Commission on July 1 including 70 citizens among five subcommittees.
“I understand change won’t happen overnight, but I am determined to make many improvements quickly, and to continue to make immediate changes as opportunities present themselves," said Gorton.
One of the co-chairs of the Commission, Rosalyn Akins, explained the larger goal, "the purpose is to assemble diverse community members to listen, discuss and create empowering solutions that dismantle systemic racism in Fayette County."
Friday morning, faith and community leaders of the Housing and Gentrification Subcommittee met via Zoom on YouTube Live to outline their path forward during the 60 days they have to return a plan to the Mayor.
The members determined addressing Lexington's history will be their first goal.
Professor and Chair of Geography at the University of Kentucky Richard Schein and Architect Harding Dowell with Group 4 Architecture Research + Planning, who are both subcommittee members, discussed the need to look at redlining and zoning ordinances.
Dowell stated, "We'd be remiss when we're talking about structural issues, to not look at our zoning ordinance; whether there are, you know, its historic structure is one thing, its current structure is another. But, I think a real deep dive into what the language of our zoning ordinance really means for communities of color, and how some of those historic--like redlining and other other historic means of racism are still present, even if they're not explicit."
Subcommittee member and Executive Director of the Lexington Community Land Trust Russ Barclay also weighed in on how the history of the city needs to be addressed. He suggested taking a deep look at policies and laws.
"It's important to educate the community on policies, laws like things that are that are actually--that you can't debate. The impact or you can't explain it away is like these are hard facts about how our country, how our city has enacted laws in order to deprive people of justice," said Barclay. "I think, be able to even, you know, as a way to compliment the stories is also just to be able to drive in on the history from a policy and law standpoint and also understand like this isn't the housing identification things that we are, that we find ourselves in today isn't a product of mere market conditions. This has been something that has been legislated."
Faith leader Laurie Brock posed their second main goal: finding a way to involved the marginalized in the conversation for change.
She said, "For communities who are most impacted by housing affordability, by, by lack of good transit-dependable transportation. I mean, neighborhoods are great but if they can't get anywhere because you don't have a car that's a problem. Neighborhoods that don't have grocery stores that don't, you know, affordable, how do we create spaces for, for the people who live in those neighborhoods to tell us what they need?"
In the coming meetings the subcommittee will hammer out details for how the community can participate and make their voices heard.
The group decided their meetings will occur Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. beginning July 16 through August 6. To watch those meetings, go to the Mayor's Commission for Racial Justice & Equality YouTube page.