It Can Happen Here

It Can Happen Here

The chilling hatred white supremacists, white nationalists, and neo-nazis displayed in Charlottesville, Virginia, was an affront to human dignity -- and at multiple times a literal attack upon it. On Friday night on the University of Virginia campus, students standing up against the “Alt-Right” were surrounded and assaulted. At the “Unite the Right” rally the next day at a city park, a rally participant ran over and killed Heather Heyer, a paralegal and anti-racist activist. He injured 19 others in the attack. Others severely beat Deandre Harris, an anti-racist protester and hip-hop artist, in a parking garage. Fistfights broke out elsewhere.

Symbols of white supremacist violence, genocide, and oppression were prevalent. Swastikas and Nazi salutes, Ku Klux Klan hoods and crosses, Confederate flags and burning torches. Chants like “Proud to be white,” “You will not replace us,” “White lives matter,” and “Blood and soil” (an old Nazi slogan) filled the air. Many enjoyed the privilege of walking around with heavy weaponry and acting provocatively without fear of swift and painful police retribution.

Yet standing against them, arm-in-arm and singing, were local clergy. People of all colors, genders, orientations, and beliefs worked together -- truly, the American ideal -- to show with their bodies and voices that white supremacy has no place in a decent society. Residents and visitors from around the nation, youths and workers, radicals and civil rights activists, they all marched through the streets together in the name of justice. Not all went home unscathed. One did not go home at all. But all did the right thing in that moment. History will look as admirably upon them as it looks upon the souls attacked on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday 1965.

It is their example that Kansas City must follow. With our words and with our bodies, Kansas Citians must confront racial hatred in all its forms. What happened in Charlottesville can happen here.

Kansas City is still scarred by its history of oppression of people of color: from where we live to how long we live to how much wealth we have. Events in 2017 alone have left an open wound in our present. As CCO has documented, swastikas, nooses, slurs, vandalism, threatening phone calls, declarations of “white power,” Alt-Right literature condemning a diverse America, beatings, and a shooting by a man hunting Arabs have all been experienced in our city in the past eight months alone. The past few years is an even darker story. There is no question the same elements that made this weekend’s horrific events possible exist in Kansas City.

CCO will confront daily the legacy of Kansas City’s white supremacy, working for equality and prosperity for all people. All of Kansas City -- especially white people, who have turned away in the face of injustice for too long -- must address racial and other mistreatment or stereotyping wherever they see it and at the moment they hear it. All of us must be fearless in the face of danger. We must confront hatred with our words and our bodies. We will speak up and show up. Justice expects nothing less. History expects nothing less.

From Executive Director Seft Hunter: Stand With Workers Tomorrow

From Executive Director Seft Hunter: Stand With Workers Tomorrow

This Tuesday, August 8th, Kansas City residents have an opportunity to weigh in on whether or not to raise their minimum wage. This is an opportunity for each of us to stand with workers and powerfully declare that no one working full time should remain trapped in poverty. We need your help. Join us in this effort.

For us at CCO, this is the continuation of a protracted fight we have been waging since 2012. We do this out of a deep and abiding commitment to our faith and shared values that call us to work to achieve economic dignity for all workers and families. We strongly believe that this moment requires that every person who seeks to live in a city where the dignity of work is affirmed by fair wages must come out on Tuesday and declare their belief by voting Yes on Question #3 to help us make it so.

To those who say our actions may get reversed by the Missouri State Legislature: You are right! But we have always known that the fight for fair wages will not end on Tuesday. We are further clear that a strong "yes" vote on this initiative helps to strengthen our legal options and renew our resolve to continue this important fight. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled earlier this spring that municipalities can raise wages if the action is approved by a vote of the people. With a victory on Tuesday we will be going back to the state supreme court to petition them to ratify this.

We have heard many arguments during this campaign both for and against raising wages. For us it comes down to a simple question--when do we stand up for what we believe is right? Workers deserve a raise. The moment to stand up for this is right now. Join us tomorrow, Tuesday, August 8th, to give Kansas City a raise.

- Seft Hunter, CCO Executive Director

 

Take Action

1. Find your polling station at www.kceb.org.  

2. Volunteer to make calls on election day at the CCO Office (2400 Troost Avenue, suite 4600) any time from 11am-5:30pm. Email garrett@cco.org to RSVP.

3. Make calls from home by following these instructions.

4. Find @kcfor15 on Facebook and Twitter and share posts now!

The First 200 Days and a Call For Justice

The First 200 Days and a Call For Justice

By Reverend Lia McIntosh


The first 200 days of the 45th president’s term have been named as unnerving at best and pandemonium at worst.  And honestly, I am exhausted by the inundation of coverage by the news media of this administration’s every tweet, text, and tirade.  Under this administration we have witnessed repeated verbal, political, and sometimes physical attacks against humanity with little regard for economic, social, and political justice in the U.S. and beyond.  Where shall we go from here?

Before I answer that question let me share a bit about my story. 

I was born on Nov 1, 1972, 4 years after Dr. King was killed.  My African American parents grew up during the civil rights movement.  My mother was raised in a segregated rural Mississippi community.  Her family is documented in the Civil Rights museum in Memphis, Tennessee, for their work in Mississippi registering African Americans to vote.

My father grew up in St. Louis.  As a college student he was actively involved in integrating lunch counters in Kirksville, Missouri.  Interestingly, he and a close friend were headed to Selma, Alabama, to participate in the 1964 civil rights march but never made it because the bus leaving from Kirksville was full and had no seats for them.

My parents' struggle and the sacrifices of many who followed Dr. King shaped the course of my life even before I was aware of its impact.  Growing up a few miles from Ferguson, Missouri, in St. Louis County, I benefited from integrated schools and had many options to study, shop, and eat.

And yet, today I realize that while we have progressed tremendously in the past 50 years there is still great need for courageous leaders to advocate for justice.  This is not just a race issue; it's a human issue and a faith issue. 

Dr. King followed in the footsteps of the Biblical prophets who were spokespersons for God, called to expose oppression and collective unrighteousness—or injustice. 

In the Biblical text the prophet Isaiah in chapter 49 verse 6 says, “I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

God called Isaiah to be uncompromisingly committed to justice for all, not just the Israelites.

Isaiah, like other Biblical prophets, exposed the sinful practices and polices that exploited and oppressed masses of people that religious and political leaders were tasked with serving. 

Biblical prophets called for broad social reform, not just individual betterment for a few.

They afflicted the comfortable by challenging religious and political regimes to align with God’s greater good. 

Interesting, although we do not know the name of Isaiah’s wife we do know she was a prophetess, as seen in Isaiah 8:3.  So both men and women prophesied and committed themselves to justice for all.

In this scripture Isaiah speaks to Israelites who are exiled and scattered around the region and calls them to glorify God even in their oppression and exile.  Yet Isaiah complains that despite all his efforts no one listens.  He is deeply despised and even hated by many in power.

Maybe you’ve felt despised and discouraged after this past year’s political season.  Maybe you’ve wondered if our work for social, economic, and political justice is worth it.  Well, you’re not alone.  Even Dr. King needed encouragement through the movement. 

On Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech for jobs and freedom.  But he might have never delivered that message the way he did if not for some encouragement from gospel legend Mahalia Jackson.  She sang at the Lincoln Memorial before Dr. King’s address.  Midway during his speech, she said: “Tell ’em about the dream, Martin!  Tell ‘em about the dream!”  King pushed his manuscript off to the side and preached from his heart.  He told them them about the dream.

Today, as the mother of 3 young children, I still have a dream that little black and brown boys and girls side by side with little white boys and girls will have equal access to excellent schools and health care so they can become world changers and history makers.  I pray that they are judged not by the hoodies they wear or the natural texture of their hair, but by the content of their character.  I write today because I believe there are many who are willing to keep working for this dream.

So, as people of faith, where do we go from here?

First, we serve others.  Dr. King once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"  Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on the King holiday to serve their neighbors and communities.  It's an opportunity for Americans from all walks of life to work together.  Just as the King holiday is a day on, not a day off, our service must continue throughout the year, especially for children and those most in need. 

Second, we must learn the facts to know the injustices that still exist today in our communities.

For example, education in urban America often is still separate and unequal:

Racial Disparities in High School Dropout Rates

  • Half of the nation’s African American and Latino students are dropping out of high school, with the most severe problems being in segregated, high-poverty schools.
  • Of schools with minority populations of at least 50%, half have dropout rates over 40 percent.
  • Of schools comprised of at least 90% minority students, two-thirds have dropout rates of more than 40%.

Racial Disparities in Incarceration and Criminal Sentencing

  • From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people.
  • African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population.
  • African American males are incarcerated at 5 times the rate of whites.

(Sources: NAACP.org, http://www.sentencingproject.org)

These are just two examples of civil rights issues of today.  We must know the facts and continue to work toward justice.

Third, we must lift our collective voice.  We have power together as a community to vote, run, and lead.  We must not only cast our vote, but also ensure everyone has access to the vote regardless of their background.  We must know and talk with our elected officials, government and community leaders, about the challenges of our time.  Together we can make our community and nation one that provides an opportunity for every person to thrive.  In particular, we must organize and be advocates for those who are voiceless by being courageous enough to run for political office, serve on boards and commissions, and negotiate to help create and implement policies for a more equitable society. 

Dr. King said, "Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.  The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro.  Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained."

Everyone can make a difference.  And, this is where community organizing with movements like Communities Creating Opportunity (CCO) is critically important. Conditions in our community are shaped by economic, social, and political power.  Therefore, improving community conditions requires building collective people power (not just individual) to develop solutions, negotiate policies, and hold leaders accountable.  Organized people of faith have long been the foundation of powerful civil rights, women’s, immigrant, labor, and poverty movements throughout history.

Finally, we must be willing to take non-violent direct action.  You may ask: "Why direct action today?  Why sit-ins, marches, protests and so forth?  Isn't negotiation a better path?"  Here's how Dr. King answered that question in his letter from a Birmingham jail.

"Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.  It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored..."

May we all have the courage to organize for non-violent direct action, as we feel called.  May we seek to bring good news to the poor and deliverance to the oppressed, and not bow to the desires of those in power simply to avoid making waves.  May we courageously stand for justice, kindness, and humility with God.

And when we do, here’s the promise from God to prophet Isaiah and to us today in chapter 49 verse 7.

Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, “Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Let me end with this.

As a young girl I often wondered why my parents and teachers insisted I know African history as a supplement to Biblical and American history.  I was often more interested in other things like my friends and sports.  What they taught me is that the human race is inextricably connected in all communities across time and geography.  So we cannot sit idly by in Kansas City and not be concerned about what happens in Washington, D.C.  We cannot ignore what happens in north Kansas City because we live south of the river.  We cannot isolate ourselves from poverty because, as Dr. King wrote, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly."

May the prophet Isaiah’s and Dr. King's courage challenge each of us today toward action as we serve others, learn the facts, lift our voices, and take action.

 

Lia McIntosh is a coach, speaker, writer, and community advocate in Kansas City. She is an ordained United Methodist minister and specializes in urban ministry and leading churches to deeply connect with their communities.

Weekly Newsletter 7/25/2017

Weekly Newsletter 7/25/2017

The Senate will vote today on whether to proceed with making healthcare unaffordable for tens of millions. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal-and-replace efforts are not dead. Today is a critical moment. The Senate will vote on whether to continue their repeal efforts. Let's light up their phones together.   

Contact Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (202-224-5721), Kansas Senator Jerry Moran (202-224-6521), and Kansas Senator Pat Roberts (202-224-4774) to let your voice be heard! Tell them the ACA is here to stay.

 

Phonebank for $15! We are phonebanking to get out the vote for the August 8 vote on a $15 minimum wage for Kansas City, Missouri, by 2022. We are doing so on Thursday(July 27, 5pm-8pm), Friday (July 28, 11am-2pm), and Saturday (July 29, 9am-noon). It will take place at the CCO office (2400 Troost Avenue, KCMO, suite 4600). Please emailgarrett@cco.org to RSVP.

 

Live in Johnson County? The JoCo CCO chapter is meeting on Thursday, July 27 at 6pm to discuss how to educate the region on the impact of social conditions like poverty on childhood development. We are meeting at Leawood United Methodist Church, 2915 W. 95th Street, Leawood, KS 66206. RSVP here and share the event on Facebook.

 

Attend the "Faith For $15" rally! God has declared that we seek justice for the poor. The time is now. Join clergy and diverse people of all faiths to boldly declare that pushing for dignity for ALL workers and their families is doing God's work, and that democratic participation is a way to serve the least of these in our society. All faiths must join together to announce the moral necessity of action. Kansas City, Missouri, must vote YES on Question 3 on August 8 to win a living wage for every worker.

The rally will take place at St. Mark Union Church (1101 Euclid Avenue in KCMO) at 4pm onSunday, August 6. RSVP on Facebook

 

Have a great week!

Weekly Newsletter 7/7/17

Weekly Newsletter 7/7/17

Wow. It's a busy time at CCO, and things are just getting started. First, some acknowledgements.

A special thank you to all who came in last week to share your healthcare story with two members of Senator Roy Blunt's staff. It was an emotional, powerful moment that demonstrated the unbreakable human spirit in the face of injustice, struggle, and tragedy. None in attendance will soon forget it. Check out and share the stories on Facebook, as well as photos from the event

Another thank you is owed to all who joined us for phonebanking against the American Health Care Act (AHCA) last week. It's because of pressure like this from across the nation that senators are hesitating to support this bill. It's because of your efforts that the bill hasn't been rushed through.

 

But we cannot stop now. We have to keep calling. Contact Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (202-224-5721), Kansas Senator Jerry Moran (202-224-6521), and Kansas Senator Pat Roberts (202-224-4774) to let your opinion on the AHCA be heard. Together we can stop drastic cuts to Medicaid, preserve the subsidies that make healthcare plans affordable for tens of millions of people, and save the elderly and folks with pre-existing conditions from being overcharged by insurance giants.

 

The voter registration deadline is Wednesday! On August 8, Kansas City, Missouri, will vote on a $15 minimum wage. Voting YES on Question 3 will enact a $10 minimum wage right away and give working families a raise each year until the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour in 2022. Voter registration is due by Wednesday, July 12.

Be sure you register to vote today if you live in KCMO.

Thank you, as well, to those who attended the "Rally For A Living Wage" last week! A second rally will be held just before the vote.

 

Phonebank for $15! We will be phonebanking to get out the vote starting this upcomingThursday (July 13, 5pm-8pm), Friday (July 14, 11am-2pm), and Saturday (July 15, 10am-1pm). It will take place at the CCO office (2400 Troost Avenue, KCMO, suite 4600). Please join us! Expect another email with more details shortly.

 

Live in Johnson County? The JoCo CCO chapter is meeting on Thursday, July 27 at 6pm to discuss how to educate the region on the impact of social conditions like poverty on childhood development. We are meeting at Leawood United Methodist Church, 2915 W. 95th Street, Leawood, KS 66206. RSVP here and share the event on Facebook.  

 

Have a good weekend!

Weekly Newsletter 6/21/2017

Weekly Newsletter 6/21/2017

Register to vote and take our pledge! On August 8, Kansas City, Missouri, will vote on a $15 minimum wage. Voting YES on Question 3 will enact a $10 minimum wage right away and give working families a raise each year until the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour in 2022.

Be sure you register to vote today if you live in KCMO. Take the pledge afterwards to commit to voting and sharing information about the vote with others (signing the pledge will redirect you to a page with links to the KC for $15 Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as campaign materials you can share).

 

Attend the "Rally For A Living Wage"! It's time to come together to declare our shared commitment to justice and dignity for workers and their families. It's time to sound the call to action: Kansas City, Missouri, must vote on August 8 to win a living wage. 

Join CCO and many other social justice groups on Thursday, June 29, 2017 at 6pm at Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church (2310 E. Linwood Blvd, KCMO 64109). We will stand in solidarity with one another and organize to get out the vote for one of the most important elections in Kansas City history.

RSVP here.

 

Help us strike down HB 1194, a law that forbids Missouri cities from raising their minimum wages! The bill is on Governor Eric Greitens' desk. It is a threat to all Missouri cities pushing to guarantee a living wage to hardworking people.

Kansas City's new minimum wage law would go into effect before the state law would, yet it is nevertheless imperative we call Governor Greitens at 573-751-3222 and tell him to veto HB 1194. 

 

Come share your ACA story with Senator Blunt's Health Policy Advisor. Desiree Mowry, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt's Health Policy Advisor, will be in the CCO office on Monday, June 26, 2017 from 9am to 11am. We are looking for individuals willing to come in and share how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has positively impacted them.

This is a critical time to confront policymakers directly with the effects of their decisions. Next week a vote to repeal the ACA is expected in the Senate. The new bill will make 23 million people lose health insurance, cut Medicaid by over $800 billion, and allow insurance companies to overcharge the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions. It will change healthcare in the U.S. and Missouri drastically.

If you can come in and share your ACA story in person, please email the CCO Communications Coordinator, Garrett Griffin, at garrett@cco.org. Send your name, phone number, and a brief description of your story. If you have someone you know with a powerful story, get him or her in touch with us as well. 

 

Live in Topeka? Join the Community Health Care Access Forum to find out how the AHCA could affect you. The AHCA will mean drastic cuts to KanCare and more Kansas families without affordable heath insurance. 

Join us on Saturday, June 24, 2017 from 10am to 11:30am at the Topeka and Shawnee Council Public Library (Marvin Auditorium), 1515 SW 10th Street, Topeka, KS 66604. 

RSVP here.  

 

Call your U.S. Senators to ask them to reject the American Health Care Act! Please contact Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (202-224-5721), Kansas Senator Jerry Moran (202-224-6521), and Kansas Senator Pat Roberts (202-224-4774) to let your voice on this issue be heard. Time is running out; the time to speak up is now.

 

Have a great week.

Weekly Newsletter 6/15/2017

Weekly Newsletter 6/15/2017

Join us in Johnson County tonight! The Johnson County CCO chapter is hosting a viewing of part one of Raising of America, a groundbreaking documentary on how social conditions impact childhood development, at 5:30 pm on Thursday, June 15, 2017. Check out a trailer of the film here.

This event will take place at the Family Conservancy, 444 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66101. It will feature speakers from the Family Conservancy and Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas and Western Missouri.

Please RSVP

 

Register to vote and take the pledge! On August 8, Kansas City, Missouri, will vote on a $15 minimum wage. Voting YES on Question 3 will enact a $10 minimum wage right away and give working families a raise each year until the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour in 2022.

Be sure you register to vote today if you live in KCMO. Take the pledge afterwards to commit to voting and sharing information about the vote with others!

 

Help us strike down HB 1194, a law that forbids Missouri cities from raising their minimum wages! The bill is now on Governor Eric Greitens' desk. It is a threat to all Missouri cities pushing to guarantee a living wage to hardworking people.

Kansas City's new minimum wage law would go into effect before the state law would, yet it is nevertheless imperative we call Governor Greitens at 573-751-3222 and tell him to veto HB 1194. 

   

Call your U.S. Senators to ask them to reject the American Health Care Act! TheAHCA is an immoral bill. It guts Medicaid by $834 billion, allows insurance companies to overcharge the elderly and Americans with pre-existing conditions, and is expected to make 23 million people lose health insurance. All this while cutting taxes for the rich by $230 billion.

Please contact Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (202-224-5721), Kansas Senator Jerry Moran(202-224-6521), and Kansas Senator Pat Roberts (202-224-4774). Ask them to take a stand against this misguided legislation.

 

Thanks for all you do to help bring human dignity to the center of public life. Have a blessed week.

Weekly Newsletter 6/7/2017

Weekly Newsletter 6/7/2017

The KC for $15 campaign has begun! On August 8, Kansas City, Missouri, will vote on a $15 minimum wage. Voting YES on Question 3 will enact a $10 minimum wage right away and give working families a raise each year until the wage floor reaches $15 per hour in 2022.

CCO has joined forces with many other social justice groups in Kansas City to get out the vote. Be sure you register to vote today and connect with the KC for $15 Facebook pageand Twitter page. We need you to help spread the word.

You will see below that the state of Missouri is trying to block cities from raising their minimum wages. Keep reading to learn how you can help stop this. But rest assured, even if the state succeeds, Kansas City's new law will go into effect before the state's, setting us up for a legal battle that we can -- and will -- win. 

 

Live in Topeka? Join the Mayoral Candidates Forum to hear and meet those running for Topeka mayor. Your voice and your vote matters, so it is important to show up and know who will be on the ballot.

This forum will take place at the Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging, 2910 SW Topeka Blvd, Topeka, KS 66611. Reception at 5:30 pm, forum from 6 pm to 8 pm. RSVP by emailingGwashington@gotopeka.com.  

 

Live in or near Johnson County? The Johnson County CCO chapter is hosting a viewing of part one of Raising of America, a groundbreaking documentary on how social conditions impact childhood development, at 5:30 pm on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

This event will take place at the Family Conservancy, 444 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66101. It will feature speakers from the Family Conservancy and Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas and Western Missouri.

Please RSVP today. 

 

Help us strike down HB 1194, a law that forbids Missouri cities from raising their minimum wages! The bill is now on Governor Eric Greitens' desk. It is a threat to all Missouri cities pushing to guarantee a living wage to hardworking people.

It is imperative we call Governor Greitens at 573-751-3222 and tell him to veto HB 1194.  

   

We are also continuing our phone campaign to U.S. Senators to ask them to reject the American Health Care Act. The AHCA is an immoral bill. It guts Medicaid by $834 billion, allows insurance companies to overcharge the elderly and Americans with pre-existing conditions, and is expected to make 23 million people lose health insurance. All this while cutting taxes for the rich by $230 billion.

Please contact Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (202-224-5721), Kansas Senator Jerry Moran(202-224-6521), and Kansas Senator Pat Roberts (202-224-4774). Ask them to take a stand against this misguided legislation.

 

Have a fantastic week!

Weekly Newsletter 5/31/2017

Weekly Newsletter 5/31/2017

Help us strike down HB 1194, a law that forbids Missouri cities from raising their minimum wages! The bill is now on Governor Eric Greitens' desk. It is a threat to all Missouri cities pushing to guarantee a living wage to hardworking families.

It particularly threatens St. Louis, which just passed a $10 minimum wage, and Kansas City, which will vote on a $15 minimum wage on August 8 (register to vote here).

It is imperative we call Governor Greitens at 573-751-3222 and tell him to veto HB 1194.  

    

We are also continuing our phone campaign to U.S. Senators to ask them to reject the American Health Care Act. The AHCA is an immoral bill. It guts Medicaid by $834 billion, allows insurance companies to overcharge the elderly and Americans with pre-existing conditions, and is expected to make 23 million people lose health insurance. All this while cutting taxes for the rich by $230 billion.

Please contact Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (202-224-5721), Kansas Senator Jerry Moran(202-224-6521), and Kansas Senator Pat Roberts (202-224-4774). Ask them to take a stand against this misguided legislation.

 

Live in Kansas? The Johnson County CCO chapter is hosting a viewing of part one of Raising of America, a groundbreaking documentary on how social conditions impact childhood development, at 5:30 pm on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

This event will take place at the Family Conservancy, 444 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66101. It will feature speakers from the Family Conservancy and Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas and Western Missouri.

Please RSVP today. 

 

Have a blessed week!

Weekly Newsletter 5/23/2017

Weekly Newsletter 5/23/2017

No fine, no jail time. After three long years, the final seven members of the Medicaid 23 listened closely to the brief words of a stoic Cole County judge. To the surprise of the defendants, their allies, and even their lawyers, the judge ruled out a monetary penalty: "Even a fine of one dollar would be excessive."

Riccardo Lucas and Revs. Susan McCann, Wallace Hartsfield, Lloyd Fields, Ester Holzendorf, and Emmet Baker were given what amounts to one year unsupervised probation. Reverend Jessie Fisher's case will be concluded later.

After the sentencing, Reverend Hartsfield led the group in prayer.

Now is the time to reflect on the work that still needs to be done to broaden healthcare access for all people. The Medicaid 23 were arrested while calling on the Missouri Legislature to expand Medicaid to cover 300,000 low-income Missourians who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies. After three years, this problem persists. It is estimated that 700 Missourians will die each year without Medicaid expansion.

What can you do to help?

We encourage you to contact your Missouri representatives in Jefferson City to make your voice heard on this issue. A similar fight over Medicaid expansion is close to victory in Kansas, so we encourage Kansans to also contact your representatives in Topeka. Tell them poverty should not be a death sentence.

 

It is also vital in this moment to urge our U.S. Senators to reject the American Health Care Act. As we work for Medicaid expansion, we must remember the veryexistence of Medicaid is threatened. The AHCA would slash hundreds of billions from healthcare for the poor, along with other immoral consequences.

 

Finally, we invite you to read and share an important interview on CCO's website. We spoke with Phil Glynn, President of Travois in Kansas City, on why his small business provides its workers a living wage, healthcare, higher education assistance, and even childcare, and why he personally thinks you should vote YES on the $15 minimum wage question on Kansas City's August ballot.

Thank you for all you do to create a better world. Have a great week!

Last of the Medicaid 23 Face Sentencing in Jefferson City

Last of the Medicaid 23 Face Sentencing in Jefferson City

By Garrett S. Griffin


Seven clergy and healthcare advocates from Kansas City and St. Louis will journey to Jefferson City today (Thursday, May 18) to be sentenced for trespassing at the state capitol in 2014. They were part of the Medicaid 23, a diverse group of brave activists who sang and prayed in the capitol balcony to urge the Missouri Legislature to expand Medicaid to cover the 300,000 low-income Missourians who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies.

For refusing to leave or allow their voices for poor families stuck in a coverage gap to be silenced, the Medicaid 23 were arrested and in 2016 found guilty of trespassing. Jay Nixon, Missouri governor at the time, offered them pardons. Seven refused the offer.

The seven include CCO Board President Rev. Susan McCann and Rev. Wallace Hartsfield Sr., both of Kansas City. The other five are Rev. Lloyd Fields, Rev. Ester Holzendorf, Rev. Jessie Fisher, and Riccardo Lucas, all of Kansas City, and Rev. Emmet Baker of St. Louis.

“This is about justice,” Reverend Susan McCann said. “Justice for the poor of our state still waiting for their representatives to act. Missouri makes it harder than almost any other state to qualify for Medicaid. While the Legislature delays, Missourians without health insurance die. This is a matter of life and death.”     

Sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today at the Cole County Circuit Court. 

Business Leader For $15: In Conversation with Travois' Phil Glynn

Business Leader For $15: In Conversation with Travois' Phil Glynn

Communities Creating Opportunity spoke with Phil Glynn, President of Travois in Kansas City, Missouri, about how and why his company supports economic dignity for its workers -- and why other companies should do the same.  

 

CCO: Travois spurs housing and economic development in First Nation communities: American Indian, Native Alaskan, and Native Hawaiian. Tell us a bit more about what that looks like and why it's important to you. 

Glynn: We identify change agents working in Native communities. We support them as they lead a community organizing process to build consensus for a new development. This could be a business that creates family-wage jobs, infrastructure that is resilient to a disrupted climate, or housing that helps stabilize families. Once the community is united around an idea, we bring private investors to the table to close project gaps. We are a for-profit, mission-driven family business. Our model helps us move at the speed of the market. Our board, our founders, and our partners across Indian Country keep us anchored to our mission.

 

CCO: Some readers may be curious: Why Kansas City? Why is Travois here rather than elsewhere? 

Glynn: Travois is a family business. From 1995-2006, Travois employees worked in offices around the country. Around 2006, our founders (my in-laws) started looking for locations to centralize to gain efficiencies and bring everyone together. Our CEO Elizabeth Bland Glynn (my wife) and I had put down roots in KC. I grew up here and Elizabeth fell in love with the place after college. I could go through all of the things that make KC a great place to grow a business -- central location, good cost of living, access to passionate and skilled talent. But the truth is, Elizabeth and I had the first grandchild, which forced my in-laws to start spending time here. Once they did they saw what I have seen my entire life. This is a great community with great energy where positive things can happen.

 

CCO: We hear Travois pays its own employees a living wage. What's your philosophy behind that? 

Glynn: We want our employees focused on making a positive impact in the Native communities where we work. Paying a living wage, offering quality benefits, and supporting employees’ ongoing education are all a part of that. If you are worried about paying your bills, if you are unable to attend a child’s school play, or if you are unable to take time to care for a parent who is ill, where will your focus be? We have seen that when we invest in our people that investment pays off in big ways for our clients, investors, and our company.

 

CCO: Elaborate on how a living wage pays off for your company. You're a small business, with a staff of about 40. A common sentiment is that a decent wage kills small businesses: you can't afford to hire more workers, you can't properly invest in other areas of the business because you have to devote so much money to labor, and so on. Isn't paying a living wage holding Travois back?

Glynn: From a business point of view, motivated, devoted, creative employees are your most valuable asset. You have to invest in your most important asset if you want to succeed. Looking at people as a cost is a narrow, old-fashioned way of assessing things. Employee compensation is an investment. When you invest in your business you see returns in the form of lower turnover costs, happier customers, and new opportunities.

 

CCO: In August there will be a $15 minimum wage on the Kansas City ballot. Do you support this measure? 

Glynn: Yes. A $15 minimum wage puts more money in workers’ pockets that will circulate in our local economy. Communities grow by attracting talented people and new job creation follows talented people. I want Kansas City to be in a race to the top to be the best place in the region to live and work. Setting a minimum wage at a level that recognizes what it takes to raise a family and live with dignity is critical to that effort.

 

CCO: Just a couple more questions. You mentioned helping employees continue their education? And is it true you help with childcare as well?

Glynn: Travois assists employees with completing degrees that will help them succeed in their careers and their lives. Anything we can do to help our people accomplish their goals will contribute to our goal of being the best company we can be. When we invest in our people they invest in us. When it comes to childcare we have seen firsthand that there is a dearth of affordable, accessible early childhood care and education options. We did not want access to or affordability of child care to be a barrier to anyone working for Travois. We provide and subsidize daycare for the families of employees. We also recruit early learning educators whom we pay a livable wage. We encourage them to bring their children with them to work, which creates strong bonds among our childcare providers, employees, and children.

 

CCO: A company with its own daycare sounds pretty unique. How common is that in Kansas City, any idea?

Glynn: We certainly see it as a differentiator. There are larger organizations that offer daycare, but we are an example that small businesses can make it work too. We want to attract and retain the best people from the Kansas City area and nationwide. One thing we seem to hear from everyone, however, is how difficult it is to find accessible, affordable childcare. We are certainly not the only company that does this, but I think if more did they would find it is an incredible retention advantage.

 

CCO: Thank you for your time, Mr. Glynn.

Weekly Newsletter 5/9/2017

Weekly Newsletter 5/9/2017

Happy Tuesday! We hope you are well. CCO is looking to build our social media following, and we could use your help. If you're on social media, please "like" our Facebook and Twitter pages, and then post a tweet or status encouraging your friends to do the same. There is even an "Invite Your Friends To Like This Page" button on CCO's Facebook page. Thank you for helping CCO grow!

 

Live in Johnson County? Our next JoCo CCO meeting is this Thursday, May 11 at 6 pm. We are gathering in the Debby Sullivan Room at the Health Service Building (11875 S. Sunset Drive, Olathe, KS 66061). We will be discussing early childhood education, a key to positive social change. Please RSVP.

 

See another episode of "The Raising of America." Visitation Church will be viewing another part of the documentary series that examines how social conditions and government policies impact childhood development. This event will take place on Tuesday, May 16 at 7 pm in Visitation's Tighe Hall (5141 Main Street, KCMO, 64112).

The episode, "Wounded Places," looks at how violence and trauma affect children. A panel discussion of experts will follow the film. RSVP today.

 

Help millions of Americans keep their healthcare! CCO opposes the new American Health Care Act that just passed the U.S. House and is working its way toward the U.S. Senate.

The bill slashes subsidies for poor Americans that helped them afford healthcare, defunds Medicaid, allows large businesses to opt out of insuring workers, removes minimum coverage requirements, and allows insurance giants to overcharge the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions (states will be required to help cover these higher prices, but details are still murky). All this while giving a massive tax cut to the wealthy.

This bill is immoral, an affront to human dignity that hurts the most vulnerable. We encourage you to call your Missouri or Kansas senators and tell them to vote NO.

The Walls That Don't Go Away

The Walls That Don't Go Away

By Jackson Laughlin


I’ve been inside jails a few times before, back when I was an intern at the Public Defender’s office. On those days, I spent just a few hours behind the confining cement walls present in most jails and prisons. When I stepped through the heavy metal doorways to go home, I was able to leave those walls behind.

Back then, I always imagined that was also true for people who were released from incarceration. I imagined they too would leave behind the walls that had confined them for the duration of their sentence.

Over the last four months, I’ve heard the voices of people telling me just how wrong I was.

“The worst city in the world to live in as a felon is Kansas City.”

“I’m having a hard time transitioning… I’m just trying to get back on my feet.”

“Once you put a person in prison you destroy the rest of their life, basically.”

Those are the words of men in Kansas City who have been previously incarcerated. Some of them have been out for over ten years. But their mistakes continue to haunt them even now, as they face the stigma of being an “ex-offender.”

“[I was rejected by] this one employer. ‘Once a criminal always a criminal’ is what she told me.”

The man who spoke those words is not alone in his struggle. One study found that 87% of potential employers  and 80% of potential landlords conduct background checks. If you have a criminal record, you are 50% less likely to receive a callback on a job. In 2015, a quarter of recently released Kansans found themselves homeless.

Over the last four months, I worked on a research project at CCO conducting public records requests, reviewing literature, and interviewing previously incarcerated people about what kind of barriers they face after being released. What did I learn? I learned that the walls don’t go away.

Of course, there are those that meet my findings with little sympathy. During my time researching the prevalence of these barriers in Kansas City, I’ve spoken with many people who believe that if someone is convicted of a crime then they should have to suffer through whatever barriers society puts in their way.

The people who make those claims are perhaps unaware of how many of their neighbors have been previously incarcerated. National trends indicate that a third of the population has a criminal record. That’s over 50,000 people in Wyandotte County; over 6,000 of those people have been released in the last five years alone.

These folks are no longer “criminals.” They have served their time, gone through their punishment. More than that, they’re our neighbors. Our friends and family.

Every previously incarcerated person I spoke to told me the same thing. They were trying to “stay focused” on their success. They “didn’t want to break the law” anymore. But according to the National Institute of Justice, 74% of them will be reincarcerated within five years following their incarceration.

Why? Because it’s next to impossible for them to succeed.

When someone is released from prison, they leave with a hundred dollars (often less) and sometimes a relative to stay with or a halfway house to sleep in. They must then find employment and housing in a world where background checks bar them from many opportunities. Often they’ve been incarcerated long enough that they no longer have the knowledge or skills to work at places willing to hire them.

Even if they are hired, many face suspended, revoked, or expired licenses that bar them from driving to work. According to a public records request received on February 13th of this year, there were 15,108 suspended licenses in Wyandotte County alone. If they are able to find a job, they may still be tasked with paying child support, parole fees, probation costs, legal debt, or halfway house fees. One man I spoke to told me that 40% of his paycheck went to the halfway house he lived in.

And those are just the most common barriers to reentry. Kansas City residents who have been incarcerated may also be overcoming psychological barriers, health problems, addiction, familial hardships, safety concerns, issues with public transportation, and nutritional barriers. How can they be expected to shoulder all those burdens when someone refuses to hire them because they think “once a criminal, always a criminal”?

It’s no wonder some of these men turn to back to crime to make a living or even just to get back into prison, where at least they’ll have a bed to sleep in.

Hearing the stories of the men I’ve interviewed has left my head riddled with questions. Why would we treat someone so differently just because of a mistake in their past? Where is our forgiveness? Where is our compassion? Why are the confining walls of incarceration still there, even when the incarceration itself is over?

One of the men I interviewed told me that he is doing “everything in his power” not to go back to prison. Shouldn’t we be doing everything in our power to help him succeed?


Jackson Laughlin is a graduating senior at the University of Kansas with a BA in Applied Behavioral Science and Political Science. Jackson is an intern at CCO and will be attending Harvard Law School in the Fall of 2017.

Weekly Newsletter 5/1/2017

Weekly Newsletter 5/1/2017

Good morning, CCO community. As some of you may have seen on our social media pages this weekend, one of Kansas City's television news stations recently caught our attention when it used the word "thug" to describe a black gunman committing a robbery. Read this article on CCO's website about how "thug" has taken on a racial meaning (it is most often used for black men) and how those who care about racial equity must be mindful of bias in language.

Then come support the following actions and events:

 

Come to Topeka for the rally to expand Medicaid in Kansas! On Tuesday, May 2, at 10:30 am, there will be a rally at the Kansas state capitol building (300 SW 10th Street, Topeka, KS 66612) in support of the expansion of Kansas Medicaid. There will be representatives and clergy there in solidarity with the cause.

The Kansas Legislature was only three votes shy of overriding Governor Brownback's veto of KanCare expansion. We are drawing closer to providing tens of thousands more low-income Kansans with healthcare, so we have to show up and increase the pressure! If you're on Facebook, RSVP!

 

Join our "Burden of a Criminal Record" event. On Tuesday, May 2, from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm, we will explore the barriers to re-entry faced by previously incarcerated Wyandotte County residents and what can be done to overcome these challenges.

This powerful event will take place in the auditorium of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Library (625 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66101). Please RSVP.

Read a reflection, "The Walls That Don't Go Away," by the event speaker at CCO's website.

 

Live in Johnson County? The next JoCo CCO meeting will be on Thursday, May 11. Time and location TBD, so watch your email inbox and our Facebook and Twitter pages for updates.

 

See another episode of "The Raising of America"! Visitation Church will be viewing another part of the documentary series that examines how social conditions and government policies impact childhood development. This event will take place on Tuesday, May 16, at 7 pm in Visitation's Tighe Hall (5141 Main Street, KCMO, 64112).

The episode, "Wounded Places," looks at how violence and trauma affect children. A panel discussion of experts will follow the film. Please RSVP today.

 

We look forward to seeing you at these events. Have a great week!

KMBC Doesn't Realize 'Thug' is a Racial Code Word

KMBC Doesn't Realize 'Thug' is a Racial Code Word

By Garrett S. Griffin


On Thursday, KMBC 9 News published a story on a black man who robbed a Jimmy John’s on 39th Street, pulling out a gun and pointing it mere inches from an employee’s head. Within the story itself, the man’s reprehensible actions were reported with the professionalism one would expect from a news organization. He was labeled a “suspect” and a “gunman.”

When KMBC shared the story on Facebook, however, professionalism was abandoned for racially-charged language. “Do you recognize this thug?” the status asked.

What most thinking persons suspect, yet the news station seems oblivious to, is that “thug” has indeed become a modern racial slur. Thug is almost exclusively used, by media and individuals, to describe black male suspects or criminals (or even, at times, peaceful black protesters or nonviolent black drug users). Richard Sherman put it best when he said, “The only reason it bothers me is because it seems like it’s the accepted way of calling somebody the N-word nowadays.” This was after he was labeled a thug despite not engaging in any violent or vulgar language or actions, the precise same label actual rioters in Baltimore received thousands of times on major networks like ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox.

Defined as a “ruffian,” “criminal,” or “violent person,” the word has gone through slight evolutions over the years and been applied to many different social troublemakers, from members of the Italian mob to unionists to civil rights and anti-war activists. Like the N-word, thug was adopted by black hip-hop and rap artists as a way to describe self and culture, and is sometimes used to describe black suspects and criminals by prominent African Americans like Barack Obama and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. And there are exceptions to the rule -- when thug is used for whites. However, none of this makes it acceptable for media outlets to also partake, knowingly or unwittingly, in language that is today typically reserved for people of color. It is indecent and insensitive for any professional organization that serves a diverse community.

It is almost difficult to envision KMBC asking, “Do you recognize this thug?” in reference to a white man. This is because our language, like our society as a whole, has yet to reach a place of racial equity, a place where blacks are viewed and spoken of in ways no worse and no better than whites. Communities Creating Opportunity is dedicated to racial equity and inclusion in all aspects of life, which is why we must watch media portrayals of black criminals closely for signs of bias.

KMBC needs to recall that words can have a great deal of power. They can move us toward that place of racial equity or take us farther away, but they rarely keep us still. The station also must realize avoiding terms that have been tinged with racial meaning is not terribly difficult. As one black Kansas Citian commented on the story: “Thug??? Why not man, suspect, person, criminal, gunman, etc. We all know why he was referred to as a ‘thug.’” Whether or not KMBC realized this word has racial meaning, this seems like a good time to listen to Kansas Citians of color and reflect upon why and how language can hurt its own viewers.

 

Garrett S. Griffin is an activist, political writer, and the author of Racism in Kansas City: A Short History. He is the Communications Coordinator at CCO.

Weekly Newsletter 4/18/2017

Weekly Newsletter 4/18/2017

Good afternoon, CCO community! Did you see the latest article in our series on how faith impacts the social justice perspectives of Kansas Citians? "Islam and America's Unwritten Rules on Race" by Shahid A. Abdus-Salaam is one you won't want to miss. Be watching our blog, Facebook, and Twitter to see all the articles in this series.

We have many events coming up that we hope to see you at:

 

Go from idea to income with our "Start Your Business" Entrepreneurial Workshop! On Saturday, April 22, from 10 am to 2 pm, CCO and EconAvenue will host a free workshop on how to launch the successful business you've always envisioned. We will discuss and share local resources, hear ideas from business experts, and work on changing local culture to provide ongoing support to new business owners like you.

This event will take place at the NBC Community Development Corporation (event host), 735 Walker Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66101. RSVP today.

 

Attend our "Taste of Kansas City" Reception at the American Jazz Museum at 18th and Vine! On Thursday, April 27, from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm, come meet the famous White Privilege Conference speakers, including Michael Eric Dyson, Glenn Singleton, Peggy McIntosh, John D. Palmer, Eddie Moore Jr., James W. Loewen, and more.

You will enjoy a tour of the American Jazz and National Negro League museums, KC BBQ, a cash bar, music, book signings, and spoken word artists.

Purchase your ticket(s) here or contact Marquita Taylor at marquita@cco.org to become an official sponsor, which includes several unique benefits. Free transportation by Hobson's Limousines will be provided to the first 100 White Privilege Conference participants to purchase tickets for the reception.

 

Bring your young adult to a Youth Lock-in! CCO is co-hosting a lock-in for young men ages 12-19 on Friday, April 28, from 5 pm to midnight, with a lock-in for young women ages 12-19 the next night, Saturday, April 29, from 5 pm to midnight. Both are free!

As part of the Global Youth Initiative, these will not only be nights of fun and games, but also character-building activities and leadership development. They will take place at the Gregg/Klice Community Center (1600 Buck O'Neil Way, Kansas City, Missouri 64108). RSVP here.

 

Join our "Burden of a Criminal Record" event. On Tuesday, May 2, from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm, we will explore the barriers to re-entry faced by previously incarcerated Wyandotte County residents and what can be done to overcome these challenges.

This powerful event will take place in the auditorium of the Kansas City, Kansas Public Library (625 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66101). Please RSVP.

 

Have a great week!

Islam and America's Unwritten Rules on Race

Islam and America's Unwritten Rules on Race

By Shahid A. Abdus-Salaam


"AMERICA" IS TECHNICALLY not a place on a map. Two continents and an isthmus, comprised of twenty-three countries, make up this vast land of North, Central, and South America. But rather than three geographic regions, the United States’ elite saw "America" as a three-tier caste system: masters, poor whites, and blacks or people of color. It was a system of rules, written and otherwise.

Black progression was and is a real struggle in these so-called United States thanks to these rules. Redlining to keep real estate and community development dollars out of certain areas is just one tactic the racist American system used (uses) to keep a certain classification of people in their place. Black Wall Street (Greenwood in Tulsa, OK) faced total devastation during the white riot of 1921. Efforts to rebuild were met with racial and political resistance. Almost a century later, Greenwood has yet to regain a fraction of its former bustle and vibrancy.

1966 ushered in the Black Panther Party, inspired by a black Muslim named Malcolm X. Its agenda was to establish economic and social equality for black people and protect them from Oakland's corrupt and brutal police department. The Black Panther Party didn’t fear local police, politicians, or federal law enforcement. This violated an unwritten rule. As a result they were feared, hated, and vilified by J. Edgar Hoover. Dismantling the Party became Hoover’s obsession. Hoover said, "The unification of black people in this country is the greatest threat to our national security." Just one example of white men fearing black freedom.

Today, efforts are made to nullify the Black Lives Matter movement. If all lives mattered there would be no need for Black Lives Matter. This movement is the result of black people being murdered in cold blood. In 2016, police killed no less than 250 black people without retribution. The perpetrators investigate themselves and always find no wrongdoing. Yet when Colin Kaepernick peacefully exercises his right to free speech, he's deemed a menace to society. He broke the rules. This reaction mirrors white extremist reaction to Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X in the sixties. The racist never wants his vile behavior brought to light. Any mention or protest of his crimes are met with retaliation, no matter what the constitution says (that document and the unwritten rules of America are not one and the same today). Is this equality?

During the 60s and 70s when I was growing up, we were taught to enjoy our prosperity. Eating at Woolworths, a seat anywhere on the bus, and the right to vote was the high life. As an adult, my perspective completely changed, as I realized the economic and social challenges black people still faced. Then I found Islam.

Converting to Islam raised the stakes exponentially for me. My conversion didn’t come with any delusions society would be more gracious. America has always seen Muslims as "the Other" as well, also subjected to oppressive unwritten rules, and thus my burden was doubled. Yet studying the Qur'an and the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) reminded me of something vital to race relations, a Hadith (saying of the Prophet) reading:

O people, our Lord is one and our father Adam is one. There is no virtue of an Arab over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab over an Arab, and neither white skin over black skin nor black skin over white skin, except by righteousness.

Those words, coupled with reading Malcolm X's Hajj (journey to Mecca) experience in his autobiography, reinforced in my mind that there is no superior race. Islam makes this clear. Many religions call for love and equality between races. The fact that some religious Americans needed national laws to tell them how to conduct themselves with those of different races and faiths doesn't speak highly of their interpretation of their religion. Where they failed in their challenge, can we succeed in ours? Can we now use the wisdom of Islam and other faiths to address America's unwritten rules?

As-Salaam Alaikum.

 

Shahid A. Abdus-Salaam is the senior advisor for a commercial lending group in greater Kansas City and is involved with One Struggle KC and other social justice groups.

Weekly Newsletter 4/11/2017

Weekly Newsletter 4/11/2017

Happy Tuesday, CCO community! Over the next couple weeks we will be publishing a series of articles on faith and social justice on our new website. We asked Kansas Citians of diverse faiths to reflect on how their spiritual beliefs impact their views on (or experience with) CCO's key issues: health access, economic dignity, racial equity, violence prevention, and early childhood education.

Read the first article, "Positive Early Childhood Development is a Christian Duty" by Mary Spence, here. Be sure to watch our blog, Facebook, and Twitter to see all our articles.

 

We are building a diverse coalition of Johnson County residents who care about social justice! No county is totally free of social ills like poverty and lack of access to proper healthcare. Fortunately, there are always residents committed to addressing injustice and inequality.

Join us at the Oak Park Library (9500 Bluejacket, Overland Park, KS 66214) on Thursday, April 13, from 6 pm to 8 pm. We will identify urgent issues in Johnson County, with a focus on low life expectancy zip codes. RSVP here.

 

Come see "The Raising of America" film at Visitation! On Monday, April 17, from 7 pm to 8:30 pm, Visitation Church will host a viewing of the groundbreaking documentary that explores how social conditions affect childhood development. A discussion will follow.

It will take place in Tighe Hall at Visitation, 5141 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64112. Please RSVP here.

 

Go from idea to income with our "Start Your Business" Entrepreneurial Workshop! On Saturday, April 22, from 10 am to 2 pm, CCO and EconAvenue will host a free workshop on how to launch the successful business you've always envisioned.

We will discuss and share local resources, hear ideas from business experts, and work on changing local culture to provide ongoing support to new business owners like you. Speakers include Dell Gines of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

This event will take place at the NBC Community Development Corporation, 735 Walker Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66101. RSVP today.

 

Attend our "Taste of Kansas City" Pre-White Privilege Conference Reception at the American Jazz Museum at 18th and Vine! On Thursday, April 27, from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm, come meet the nationally renowned White Privilege Conference speakers, including Michael Eric Dyson, Glen Singleton, and more.

You will enjoy a tour of the American Jazz and National Negro League museums, KC BBQ, a cash bar, music, and spoken word artists.

Purchase your ticket(s) here, or contact Marquita Taylor at marquita@cco.org to become an official sponsor, which includes several unique benefits. Free transportation by Hobson's Limousines will be provided to the first 100 White Privilege Conference participants to purchase tickets for the reception.

 

Thank you, and have a blessed week!

Positive Early Childhood Education is a Christian Duty

Positive Early Childhood Education is a Christian Duty

By Mary Spence


FOR MANY YEARS I viewed early childhood education as solely an educational issue, but as the years passed and my experience with children grew I began to realize it is also a social justice issue. 

What impact does early childhood have on our livelihood and the strength of our communities? Providing children with a strong start allows them to develop into good students and strong, productive adults who will contribute in a meaningful way to our society. High-quality early education programs not only prepare children academically, but socially as well. This is where children learn kindness, compassion, creativity, critical thinking skills, and self-control. 

Research tells us that children who experience high-quality early education are less likely to need special education services, drop out of school or become expelled, or be involved with drugs or serious crime; they are better able to compete in the job market. Early investment in children pays off with a stronger nation and a stable democracy.

But what else does it mean? No one in our world can make it alone. We all need support in some way. Think of those who supported you along the way. While living in a country of wealth, we do not often see firsthand the great number of children and families who are struggling. Children need their parents, but parents need their jobs. Families need care for their children so they can work, free from worry, and be more successful.

Working with children most of my adult life taught me that God is near. God speaks to us through the voices of children. The question is are we really listening? Are we providing for our children as God would want? Are we teaching them the skills they need to become good, successful adults, who will carry God’s word forward? The future of our nation depends on the healthy start we give our children. A strong start for our children leads not only to better learning, earning, and physical and mental health, but also to a safer, better educated, and more prosperous nation.  The environment in which we raise our children can and will have an impact on their ability to learn and grow into the best adults they can be.

Jesus said, “Bring the little children to me." I believe it is our duty as Christians and as citizens to care for all our children and families. The kindness, support, and investment we give now will impact generations to come.

 

Mary Spence is the Co-Chair of the Raising of America Kansas City Coalition.