Colorado Black Roundtable: Gaining Ground in the Black Community Summit

Colorado Black Roundtable: Gaining Ground in the Black Community Summit

Colorado Black Roundtable

Gaining Ground in the Black Community Summit

By Alfonzo Porter

There are many organizations within the Denver African American Community; some focused on social issues while others concentrate their efforts on community-based concerns. Still others spend time working to ensure educational equity or political action.

However, there is only one organization where members of the community can seek to discuss and address multiple issues simultaneously. It focuses on information sharing and the development of programs that deal with virtually any issue of concern to members of the black community.

The Colorado Black Roundtable has been under its current stewardship with John Bailey at the helm as its President. Bailey, along with his wife, Dr. Sharon Bailey, the late Sen. Regis Groff and retired Sen. Gloria Tanner took over the organization about 10 years ago.

This year’s summit entitled, “Gaining Ground in the Black Community,” was designed to speak to many of the concerns discussed in a Rocky Mountain PBS report that revealed, a few years ago, that African Americans have actually regressed since the Civil Rights era.  Many of the same battles are still being waged and the community is, in fact, has been losing round.

The report detailed data on poverty, high school graduation, college graduation, home ownership and wealth and the results were sobering.  Indicators in all critical areas were either essentially stagnant or moving in the wrong direction.

Here is what the 2013 Losing Ground Report observed as it relates to the Black Community in Colorado: (This list is not comprehensive but provides on snapshot of some the main issues).

Regarding Education:

  • The gaps among adults with college degrees have steadily widened since 1960, with the percent of whites with college degrees three times higher than the Latino rate and double the Black rate. Those disparities are the nation’s worst for both Latinos and blacks.
  • Between 1992 and 2010, according to Census data, Colorado plunged from 24th to 40th on overall state spending per student for K-12 education. When compared to per capita personal income, Colorado ranked 45th among the states on K-12 spending.
  • The African American graduation rate from two-year colleges in Colorado is 13 percent compared to 28.7 percent for whites, African American graduation rate from four-year institutions is 39.1 percent compared to 60 percent for whites.

Regarding Health and Wellness:

  • Health disparities between racial and ethnic minorities and white Americans are nothing new — hundreds of studies over the past 20 years consistently found that African Americans and Latinos trail Caucasians in a host of measures, from life expectancy to the odds of death from cancer or kidney ailments. In Colorado, blacks are more likely to suffer from asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, prostate cancer and obesity than whites.
  • Blacks experience an infant mortality rate that is significantly higher than that of Caucasians. Black babies die at a rate much higher than white babies, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2011, the rate at which Black babies died before reaching their first birthday was a little more than twice that of white babies. African American babies experience 14.5 deaths for each 1,000 births according to an average of data from 2007 through 2011 calculated by the state health department.

Regarding Criminal Justice:

  • In 2010, about one in every 20 Black men were incarcerated in Colorado state prisons compared to one out of every 50 Latino males and one of every 150 white males.
  • In Colorado, for the past several years per pupil expenditure has averaged approximately $6,500 compared to over $30,000 per year for each inmate.
  • The incarceration rates for Latino and Black males in Colorado are higher than the national average, while white male incarceration rates mirror the national average.

Regarding Income and Employment:

  • In 1970, for example, black families earned 73 percent of white family incomes and Latino families earned 72 percent. By 2010, those numbers had fallen to about 60 percent and 50 percent, respectively.
  • Colorado has one of the largest federal workforces among the states. In total federal payroll, it ranks No. 8. Yet, federal jobs fell from 6 percent of all jobs in the state to 3 percent between 1970 and 2010. For black workers, the jobs dropped even more dramatically — from 15 percent of all jobs held by African Americans in the state to 6 percent.
  • The median income for Black households in Colorado is (2012 Census) –has decreased over the past two years to $45,920, and for Black households – while for white households it has increased to $78,908. The foreclosure crisis also hit minorities particularly hard.

Regarding Criminal Justice:

  • In 2010, about one in every 20 black men were incarcerated in Colorado state prisons compared to one out of every 50 Latino males and one of every 150 white males.
  • In Colorado, for the past several years per pupil expenditure has averaged approximately $6,500 compared to over $30,000 per year for each inmate.
  • The incarceration rates for Latino and Black males in Colorado are higher than the national average, while white male incarceration rates mirror the national average.

Regarding Economic Opportunity:

  • In 1970, for example, black families earned 73 percent of white family incomes and Latino families earned 72 percent. By 2010, those numbers had fallen to about 60 percent and 50 percent, respectively.
  • Colorado has one of the largest federal workforces among the states. In total federal payroll, it ranks No. 8. Yet, federal jobs fell from 6 percent of all jobs in the state to 3 percent between 1970 and 2010. For Black workers, the jobs dropped even more dramatically — from 15 percent of all jobs held by African Americans in the state to 6 percent.
  • In 1970, one in four Black workers either was employed in manufacturing or by the federal government. By 2010, that had dropped to one in eight.
  • The median income for black households in Colorado is (2012 Census) –has decreased over the past two years to $45,920, and for black households – while for white households it has increased to $78,908. The foreclosure crisis also hit minorities particularly hard. Lenders have been accused of steering Blacks and Hispanics into expensive subprime loans during the housing boom. As a result, many neighborhoods of color have been especially ravaged by default and vacancy in the housing crash's aftermath.

The Gaining Ground response, in 2014, authored by Dr. Sharon Bailey presented a comprehensive set of recommendations to address the problems. The report entitled “Gaining Ground in Colorado’s African American Communities served as the guide for this years’ four-day summit.

This year’s summit was aligned with the organization’s 2019-2020 goals centered around five key areas: 1) Strengthening the African American Family, 2) Facilitate and Advocate for Economic Access and Opportunity, 3) Elevating Educational Excellence as a Community Core Value, 4) Advocating and Promoting Positive Youth Development Programs, 5) Participating in Community-Political Outreach.

The four-day event featured a packed agenda. Community discussions included: Doing Business with and in the Black Communit“1619-2019 Remembrance” A Black History Community Discussion Affordable Housing & Home Ownership, Public Safety, A Black Community Discussion  with CO Governor Jared Polis and CO Congressional Leadership Updates on Impeachment, Reparations and Legislative Issues Community Reception & Recognition of Sponsors, Elected Officials, Candidates and Black Men Leaders, Disparity & Community Issues Topics, Health/Mental Health, Census, Minimum Wage Increase, Programs for Youth 

“Why Black Lives & Black Minds Matter: An Inter-generational Community Discussion

CO US Senate Candidates Forum on Education & Economic Opportunity and a Get out the Vote event to close the weekend.


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