For decades, The United States Conference of Mayors has taken a strong position in support of civil rights and in opposition to racism and discrimination of all kinds. In the 55 years since the murder of Medgar Evers in Jackson, Mississippi, the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four young girls, and the March on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., much progress has been made in addressing past grievances and in ensuring the civil and human rights of all Americans.
Across the country, mayors have spoken out against discrimination and injustice when they have occurred and have undertaken efforts to foster equity for underrepresented groups and build tolerance and understanding within their communities. Cities have also undertaken efforts to integrate immigrants into their communities and have adopted a variety of policies to include fully and treat equitably their LGBTQ residents. They have worked to inculcate compassion in their cities’ policies and activities.
However, inequities in our cities and country continue to challenge mayors. Extremism and violent bigotry are on the rise across the country. There are efforts in the states and at the highest levels of government to weaken existing civil rights policies and reduce their enforcement. There has been an increase in hate violence, xenophobic rhetoric, and discriminatory actions that target African Americans, Jews, Muslims, and other minorities. Mayors, who historically have been committed to advancing inclusiveness and equity, are addressing these challenges head on and will not permit them to succeed.
Mayors and their cities must continue to be a beacon for inclusion, tolerance, and respect for all. They recognize the need to strengthen the cultures of diversity, kindness and compassion in their communities, and expect their federal and state partners to join them in this endeavor.
To deliver on the promise of inclusiveness and equity for all, mayors must also collaborate with the business community. Mayors run their cities, but they walk every step of the way with businesses in them. Corporate leaders manage thousands of employees – employees who are citizens who reside in our cities – and are critical to ensuring inclusion not only in the workplace but insuring that the corporate culture reflects the communities they serve.
To focus this effort, The United States Conference of Mayors working with the Anti-Defamation League, launched an initiative immediately following the violent demonstrations in Charlottesville in August of 2017 – The Mayors’ Compact to Combat Hate, Extremism and Bigotry – to promote the fundamental principles of justice and equality that define America.
More than 325 of the nation’s mayors – the most recent and largest mayoral action for diversity and inclusion – have signed the Compact to date, committing to act to fight inequities and create inclusive and compassionate cities.
The Mayors’ Compact has 10 Components:
- Expressly Rejecting Extremism, White Supremacy and All Forms of Bigotry
- Denouncing All Acts of Hate Wherever They Occur
- Ensuring Public Safety While Protecting Free Speech and Other Basic Constitutional Rights
- Calling for Fully-Resourced Law Enforcement and Civil Rights Investigations of Domestic Terrorism and Hate Crimes
- Elevating and Prioritizing Anti-Bias and Anti-Hate Programs in Our Nation’s Schools
- Supporting Targeted Communities and Bringing Together Business Leaders and Civic and Community Leaders to Build Trust
- Celebrating Diversity, Promoting Inclusivity and Challenging Bias
- Promoting Law Enforcement Training on Responding to and Reporting Hate Incidents, Hate Crimes and Domestic Terrorism
- Encouraging Residents in their Communities to Report Hate Incidents and Crimes, Including Using Hot Lines and Online Tools
- Maintaining Civil Rights Enforcement and Strengthening Hate Crime Laws When Necessary