Racial Equity Bill Passes Senate Committee on First Day of Black History Month

Bill passes out of committee 3-2


Denver, CO – On the first day of Black History Month, the Colorado Senate Committee on State, Veterans, & Military Affairs passed SB24-053 – a racial equity study bill that would establish the Black Coloradan Racial Equity Study Commission. The bill would also require the Commission to produce a report consisting of a historical research study conducted by History Colorado and an economic impact study to determine if Colorado state practices, systems and policies are attributable to impacts of past and current discrimination against Black Coloradans.

This is the first time that Colorado is attempting statewide racial justice study, and the amendment added during the committee hearing restructures the bill to better define how the work will get done.  

“Today marks a triumphant milestone for Black Coloradans,” declared Sade Cooper, the Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Collaborative Healing Initiative within Communities (CHIC). “As we inaugurate Black History Month, this moment carries significant weight, providing the impetus needed to propel this pivotal bill forward. The poignant testimonies shared before the committee underscore the imperative to reckon with our historical injustices and rectify them. I commend the resilience of our visionary bill sponsors, whose collaborative efforts have fortified the legislation, bringing us one step closer to achieving its noble goals.”

Before the committee hearing, the Black Legislative Caucus hosted their own event to hear from Black Coloradans.

The study would allow the State to quantify and qualify inequities in health care, housing, education, the criminal justice system, and our economy, and help create a better understanding of how these systems may interact with or amplify each other. Colorado ranks near the bottom on WalletHub’s “most racial progress” state list, according to Axios. In fact, nearly half of all Black families in Colorado are considered low-income. Studies have shown that reducing racial disparities can have positive economic impacts and help grow the workforce. National research shows that closing the racial wealth gap could increase GDP from 4 to 6 percent.

Though Colorado was not a slave state, slavery was only fully abolished in the Colorado state constitution in 2018, and Colorado’s history is still steeped in prejudice and discrimination. In fact, the Ku Klux Klan wielded immense power and influence at all levels of government, from the state legislature to judgeships to town councils in major Colorado cities like Denver, Pueblo and Grand Junction.

Racial justice studies have been recognized as important tools that allow governments to qualify and quantify certain impacts of past and current racial discrimination. States and cities across the country are utilizing similar tools to better understand their own histories and create opportunities for justice, repair, and healing.

You can learn more at https://justiceforblackcoloradans.com/.