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June 4, 2024

Governor Signs Bill to Uncover and Define Systemic Racial Inequities in Colorado

DENVER, CO – The Governor today signed into law legislation to create a study examining racial disparities and the impact of systemic racism on Black Coloradans.

Sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore James Coleman, D-Denver, and Representatives Leslie Herod, D-Denver, and Naquetta Ricks, D-Aurora, SB24-053 creates the Black Coloradan Racial Equity Commission to determine and make recommendations surrounding the lasting effects of systemic racism in Colorado’s practices, systems, and policies.

“Black Coloradans have been living with the impacts of systemic and historic racism – and the structural inequities that have resulted from it – for decades,” Coleman said. “Studying that painful legacy is the first step towards addressing it, and will give us a deeper understanding of the impacts of past and current racial discrimination and policies on our community. This is an important opportunity for our state, and I am looking forward to continuing this conversation so we can begin to repair the damage and create a better and more equitable future for all Black Coloradans.”

“Generations of systemic racism cannot be eliminated by a few policy changes – we need data-driven research to define the structural inequities Black Coloradans are still experiencing to this day,” said Herod. “From redlining to limited educational opportunities, we know Black Coloradans have combated blatant discrimination and racism for decades. This important, community led legislation will help Colorado develop a deeper understanding of the impacts of past and current racial inequities and give us the tools we need to craft forward-thinking policy that will support Black Coloradans into the future.”

“Uncovering the historical harm done against Black Coloradans is an important step forward in our healing and creating a more equitable future for us all,” said Ricks. “This new law instructs History Colorado to research decades of systemic inequalities in our schools, our neighborhoods and in statewide policies that will help us better understand their lasting impacts on Black Coloradans today. While painful, this racial equity study will help us craft future policies that uplift Black families instead of putting barriers in front of them.”

SB24-053 establishes a commission to direct History Colorado to conduct historical research across areas like economic mobility, housing, K-12 education, health care and the criminal justice system. Racial equity studies can be used as tools to qualify and quantify past discrimination and recommend certain corrective measures.

The study will also include an economic impact analysis of the racial discrimination determined by the study. Under the new law, History Colorado will submit the study to the commission and any recommendations within two-and-a-half years. The work of the commission and the study will rely on receiving adequate gifts, grants, and donations to fund it.

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