LANSING, Mich. — Lansing Mayor Andy Schor’s two diversity committees both say they’re committed to improving racial justice across the city even if it means working together.
The question is how.
The Mayor’s Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Council was created in 2018 to address equity issues across the city.
After George Floyd’s death last summer, communities of color criticized Schor for what they felt was insufficient action on police reform.
In response, Schor created another group, the Mayor’s Racial Justice and Equity Alliance, to focus on systemic racism in Lansing.
Randy Watkins was elected as the chair of the original committee in 2019. He says the creation of the alliance caught some members off guard.
“The main concern was where does his appointed council fit in with this new alliance," said Watkins. "There was a lack of communication between the mayor’s office and the council as all of this was being formulated.”
Schor suspended the Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Council's meetings in October but gave members the option to join the alliance.
Watkins chose to transition to the new committee, but most members of the original committee resigned altogether.
The Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Council has asked to be recognized as an official city board and is waiting for the mayor’s approval.
“Racial justice and the status of our country is on fire," said Tyler Hitchcock, a member of the original committee. "There’s no reason to shut down a huge force in the community to fight for these problems.”
Schor said he is in the early planning stages of creating an official diversity, equity and inclusion board for the city of Lansing to continue fighting for racial justice "as one voice."
“Both groups want to do what’s right for the city of Lansing and that’s been our goal all along,” said Watkins.
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