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Archive for Friday, June 21, 1991

STUDY

June 21, 1991

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A permanent organization comprised of broad community and minority representation should be formed to help eliminate discrimination in Lawrence, according to recommendations in a report released Thursday.

The report, to be presented during Tuesday's Lawrence City Commission meeting, recommends the formation of a "Lawrence Alliance," which would be sponsored by the city, Haskell Indian Junior College, Kansas University and the Lawrence school district.

The report was compiled by the Community Task Force on Racism, Discrimination and Human Diversity, which the commission formed in July 1990.

DURING THE fall, the 16-member task force held a series of eight public forums on incidents of local racism and discrimination. It considered information gathered from the forums and other public input when it compiled the 90-page report.

A preliminary report outlining the recommendations had been delivered to commissioners in May. The final report was completed in response to commissioners' organizational and funding questions.

According to the task force's recommendations, the Lawrence Alliance should consist of members appointed by the city commission for three-year terms. The alliance would meet once a month.

A full-time staff member for the alliance also should be hired and paid for by the city, according to the recommendations.

GOALS OF the Lawrence Alliance, according to the recommendations, are to:

Actively address racism and discrimination in Lawrence.

Develop links among individuals, groups and institutions to foster awareness, understanding and appreciation for all aspects of human diversity.

Assist people who experience discrimination.

Build on Lawrence's history by celebrating its diversity.

"The Lawrence Human Relations Department has the important but narrow mission of investigating complaints of discrimination related to violations of the city code," the report states.

"The needs of the community, as represented by the information received, supports the creation of a structure which would have a larger purpose," according to the report.

MEMBERSHIP on the Lawrence Alliance would consist of people associated with religious groups, schools, business, law enforcement, health and social services, media, city and county government, higher education institutions, as well as other areas.

Racial and religious minorities, homosexuals, women and people with disabilities would constitute a majority of the alliance members, according to the recommendations.

In addition, members of the alliance would serve as leaders or organizers of smaller Action Coalitions, which could address problems within the following groups: African-American, Native American, Hispanic, Asian-American, gay and lesbian, women, foreign-born, religion, people with disabilities and senior citizens.

The alliance would provide quarterly reports to the sponsoring organizations.

The city commission will receive the report at its regular meeting Tuesday and could choose to direct the city staff to develop some of report's recommendations. The meeting starts at 6:35 p.m. at city hall, Sixth and Massachusetts.

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