Conference of Mayors President Columbia (SC) Mayor Steve Benjamin at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL. The six-acre site includes 800 six-foot monuments that symbolize thousands of racial terror lynching victims in the United States.
About the Center
In the troubling days following the violent and deadly demonstrations in Charlottesville in August 2017, more than 325 mayors signed a Mayors’ Compact to Combat Hate, Extremism and Bigotry, a 10-point pledge to work toward inclusive and compassionate cities drafted by the Conference in conjunction with the Anti-Defamation League.
It was the mayors’ immediate and compelling call for action that quickly led the United States Conference of Mayors to commit to the establishment of a Center that would support mayors’ efforts to make cities across the nation more equitable, more inclusive, and more compassionate. Conference of Mayors President Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia (SC), announced plans to establish the Center in his inaugural address in Columbia on May 7, 2018 and again on June 9 in his President’s Address at the organization’s 86th annual meeting in Boston. The Center was formally launched by Mayor Benjamin in Montgomery (AL) in a November 13-14 Conference of Mayors event that included a discussion session with Brian Stevenson, the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative.
Early support from Walmart, followed by the Coca-Cola Company and Comcast, was critical to the establishment of the Center. Their support sends a message to city leaders and business leaders that two of the world’s most successful and influential companies recognize the importance of direct action to confront bias and hate with compassion and inclusion. The Conference of Mayors recognizes that the leadership of the business community will contribute to the success of individual mayors’ efforts, and to the overall success of the Center itself.
A Conference of Mayors delegation of mayors in Montgomery, AL for the launch of the Center for Inclusive and Compassionate Cities, with Bryan Stevenson (front row, center), founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, which created the National Memorial for Peace and Justice as well as Montgomery’s Legacy Museum that displays the history of slavery and racism in America.
- Benjamin Launches Center for Inclusion and Compassion in Montgomery, Equal Justice Initiative Founder Bryan Stevenson Inspires Mayors For Action (To the Mayor, November 14, 2018)
- National mayors group hopes to combat bigotry with compassion, Montgomery Advertiser, November 15, 2018
- Conference of Mayors holds summit in Montgomery, Montgomery Advertiser, November 14, 2018
- Center Background Document (PDF Download)
Over the years, mayors across the nation have implemented a wide range of policies designed to strengthen the goals of inclusiveness and compassion for their cities. All mayors are invited to provide information to the Center on their initiatives, to be accessed by other mayors on this Web page. The reports that follow summarize efforts underway in a number of cities; each identifies a person in the city to be contacted for additional information.
- Austin: Mayor’s Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequities Task Force
- Baton Rouge: Cradle to K
- Chapel Hill: Chapel Hill Building Integrated Communities
- Charleston: Charleston Illumination Project
- Dallas: Dallas #BeGolden Initiative
- Denver: Sentencing Reform for a Safe, Welcoming, Open City
- Gresham: Hate is Not a Gresham Value
- Gresham: Celebrating Compassion Through Public Art
- Louisville: Mayor’s Give a Day Week of Service
- Madison, WI: Civil Rights Initiatives
- Oakland: The Oakland Promise
- Oakland: Responding to Homelessness in Oakland
- Richmond: Eviction Diversion Program
- Richmond: The Capital of Inclusion
- Tampa: Autism Friendly Tampa
- Tukwila: Wi-Fi Access for Underprivileged Youth in Tukwila
- Union City: Union City’s Compassionate City Status
- Westland: Compassionate City Initiative