Grassroots group presents “black agenda” to mayoral candidates

By Trenisha Wiggins
The Birmingham Times

The Grassroots Coalition of Birmingham, a group of local organizations that support community involvement and activism, has crafted a “Black Agenda” for candidates seeking to become Birmingham mayor.

The coalition will host a town hall-style meeting the week of June 20 to present its agenda to the candidates. The official date and sites have not yet been announced.

The group listed eight names for mayor in its mailing: incumbent William A. Bell and challengers Patricia Bell, Randy Davis, E.Philemon Hill, Frank Matthews, Fernandez (Brother) Sims, Randall Woodfin and Chris Woods.

The coalition has requested a response from each candidate, though a deadline was not set.

According to the organization, the agenda is “a political platform tailor made for Birmingham and the basis for the 2017 Birmingham/Council elections.”

The agenda focuses on seven major issues: an end to poverty; community policing and criminal justice reform; expansion of black wealth; transparent, accountable, and responsive government; education; affordable housing; and health and wellness.

The coalition also said it will focus on economics as a “form of restorative justice and as one of the first steps in the installment of a social economy for the Birmingham metro area.”

The creation and use of the agenda is important “because truth and justice are necessary for the promotion of social cohesion, the practice of cooperation, and to build true community,” according to the group.

The agenda serves as “a model for elected officials, candidates for upcoming elections, coalition members, and concerned individuals in the community,” the group said in a press release.

The agenda includes:

End Poverty

  • create and implement an agenda to grow community based businesses
  • promote alternative energy (wind, solar, hydro) and other opportunities tied to environmental justice to create value and jobs within the community
  • work with residents to revitalize the Historic Black Business District downtown

Community Policing and Criminal Justice Reform

  • promote a strong campaign against domestic violence
  • end the school to prison pipeline
  • promote rehabilitation and restoration of full citizenship for former incarcerated citizens

Expansion of Black Wealth

  • form a partnership with an active community development financial institution
  • identify and expose violations of Community Reinvestment Act committed by local banks and multinational banks
  • create list of potential community development projects and a list of relevant local economic anchor institutions

Transparent, Accountable, and Responsive Local Government

  • refund and strengthen the city-wide Neighborhood Association
  • advocate to revoke the upcoming pay raise the current city council voted in for the next elected city council 2017
  • rewrite the Mayor/Council Act to maximize the effectiveness of city government

Education

  • promote education as a public resource
  • design an African centered curriculum with the input of teachers, students, and the community
  • create and endorse a strategic implementation plan

Affordable Housing

  • identify and promote affordable mortgage programs
  • endorse community land trusts and use the Land Bank Authority to benefit residents
  • identify and promote cooperative housing initiatives

Health and Wellness

  • ensure that convenient and affordable healthy food is available in all communities
  • increase access to physical and mental health care
  • address PTSD caused by exposure to generational poverty