KCMO establishes Office of Racial Equity and Reconciliation

Kansas City, MO — The Kansas City, Missouri, City Council has accepted a $129,511 grant awarded by Health Forward Foundation to support the establishment of an Office of Racial Equity and Reconciliation and to establish an Equity Task Force to help the city achieve racial equity.

“It is critically important to redress historical and current disinvestment and systemic racism through the work of this newly established Office of Racial Equity and Reconciliation,” shared Mayor Quinton Lucas. “Achieving social equity requires removing institutional barriers to ensure all Kansas City residents can access services and resources needed to thrive.”

In its first three years, the Office of Racial Equity and Reconciliation will oversee the Equity Task Force, create a framework to review current and past policies through a racial equity lens, conduct community outreach, and benchmark best practices from other communities to design a framework for equitable policymaking in Kansas City.

“At Health Forward Foundation, we understand that the issues causing health injustices must be grasped at the root,” said McClain Bryant Macklin, Health Forward Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives. “Government leadership and action is necessary to remove the historical and current structural racism embedded in our systems. Philanthropy, private organizations, and the community at-large, must also commit our resources to creating a better, more equitable future for all.”

“In 2019, the Council unanimously approved a resolution declaring racism as a public health crisis. We are taking the necessary action to achieve racial reconciliation though anti-racist policymaking. Time and time again we have recognized the current conditions of uneven development, disinvestment, and systemic racism result in unfavorable outcomes,” shared Third District City Council member Melissa Robinson. “Together, we can contribute to an equitable city and region, where all residents are fully able to participate in Kansas City’s economic vitality, infrastructure, and municipal assets.”

The Equity Task Force will consist of at least eight members appointed by the mayor in the next 90 days. Membership will include one member from each Council district; at least three members with expertise or lived experience in social equity and/or racial justice; and at least four members that represent historically impacted racial groups, including Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian American, and Indigenous people.

The Equity Task Force will be responsible for:

  • Hosting listening sessions
  • Developing a robust community engagement plan to ensure all residents and stakeholders have opportunities to meaningfully frame the work and contribute to equity goals
  • Developing a framework for action and a work plan for the first three years of the initiative
  • Sharing policy recommendations to the City Council annually

“We have the power to shape an equitable and just reality and mold a future where we put an end to the structural racism that creates disparate health outcomes,” said Qiana Thomason, Health Forward President/CEO. “Through the Equity Task Force, people impacted by these policies will have a seat and voice to repair structural inequities to reimagine, build, and support anti-racist systems that are designed for optimal health.”

“The Office of Racial Equity and Reconciliation, as well as the task force, is a promising step to eliminating the 18.2-year difference between the highest life expectancy ZIP code in the city, which consists of 93 percent white residents, and the lowest life expectancy ZIP code in the city, which consists of 86 percent Black residents,” said Fifth District City Council member Ryana Parks-Shaw. “As the Co-Chair of the Kansas City Health Commission, we are working diligently through our Community Health Improvement Plan to address root causes of health inequities. This initiative will help to implement the plan.”

For more information contact Council member Melissa Robinson, Third District, at (816) 513-6513.