racial equity

Screenshot of a zoom meeting

About 40 people attended a hearing held Thursday night by the Commission on Racial and Structural Equity that focused on disparities in the criminal justice system. 

The commission, which was founded in June in response to an order from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is expected to analyze policies, procedures, and even laws in Monroe County and the city of Rochester. As part of that work, they’re holding multiple public hearings.

Urban League/Zoom

More than 450 people attended the first day of Rochester’s Interrupt Racism Summit on Tuesday. The two-day virtual summit sponsored by The Urban League of Rochester educates people on how to dismantle racism at their workplaces and in their communities.

In her keynote speech to participants, Urban League of Rochester CEO Seanelle Hawkins said many organizations will speak out against racism without addressing systemic problems in their own organization.


Racial disparities in Rochester, which have been highlighted by issues surrounding the death of Daniel Prude, was the topic of a live forum broadcast on WXXI-TV and radio on Thursday night as well as online at wxxinews.org.

A panel that included people from the health care, criminal justice and mental health counseling fields talked about a number of problems they see impeding real progress right now for people of color in Rochester.


A conference at Monroe Community College on Friday has the goal of trying to strengthen mental health support for a diverse student population.

College officials note that the intersection of three crises, COVID-19, economic struggles and racial injustices, has taken a toll on the mental well-being of many college students and also exposed health disparities in communities across the state and the nation.

Nathaniel Rochester statue defaced

Jun 19, 2020
Jacob Walsh/CITY Newspaper

The statue of a pensive Nathaniel Rochester in Nathaniel Square Park in the South Wedge has been defaced.

His hands have been painted blood-red, “SHAME” is stenciled across his forehead, and his back has been tagged with “WHITE SUPREMACY.”

That Rochester, a major in a Revolutionary War militia and the founder of the settlement that became our city, was a slave owner and trader has been well-documented.

Photo provided by Laurel Heiden

In what is hoped will be the first in a series of community conversations related to equity, Greece Central School District hosted “The N-word Origins, Ownership and the Impact of  Language,” on Monday evening. It was held at Olympia Auditorium.

Tasha Potter is the principal on special assignment for equity and family engagement with the school district. She said that as a woman of color she sees different perceptions across the black community on the N-word.

WXXI photo

The city of Rochester celebrated the National Day of Racial Healing on Tuesday at City Hall.

City officials recognized the work of the Race, Equity, and Leadership project team, which included workshops and training sessions on race-related issues for city employees. Going forward, the project aims to expand that training for Rochester residents.

Deputy Mayor James Smith said small changes on a personal level can help transform the community at large.

freeimages.com/Alix Morse

As New Yorkers commemorate the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., only a third of them say race relations are positive across the state.

Thirty-five percent of those who responded to a Siena College poll said they have been treated unfairly in the past year because of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has a plan to combat systemic racial inequality. His "Douglass Plan," named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass, would create a $10 billion fund for black entrepreneurs over five years, while also investing in historically black colleges, reducing the prison population, legalizing marijuana, passing a new Voting Rights Act, and more. Buttigieg says his proposal is equal in scale to the Marshall Plan.

We break down the Douglass Plan with our guests, and discuss its potential impact, successes, and gaps. In studio:

  • Adrian Hale, senior manager of workforce and economic development and education initiatives at the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce
  • Simeon Banister, vice president of community programs at the Rochester Area Community Foundation
  • Robin Wilt, member of the Brighton Town Board

The Gandhi Institute is preparing to host a program about the "diversity advantage" — how society benefits when inclusion transforms into full equality.

Our guests discuss the issue from different perspectives. In studio:

  • Mary Scipioni, landscape architect, writer and critic, and owner of Pebble-stream
  • Tanya Bakhmetyeva, associate professor of gender, sexuality, and women's studies at the University of Rochester; and associate academic director for the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
  • Mara Ahmed, political activist, artist and writer, and independent filmmaker at Neelum Films