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News Mar 11, 2013 - 6:17:53 PM

African American Affairs Commission To Present 2013 Legislative Agenda

By Connecticut African-American Affairs Commission

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The Connecticut African-American Affairs Commission (AAAC) will present its legislative agenda for the 2013 Connecticut General Assembly session during a press conference at 2 PM Tuesday, March 12, in Room 2B of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

State Representative Brandon McGee (Windsor/Hartford) and Gwen Samuel, founder of the State of Black Connecticut Alliance and president of the Connecticut Parents Union, are hosting the press conference. Both have expressed concerns regarding Governor Malloy’s proposal to consolidate Connecticut’s legislative commissions and will speak at the press conference.

An analysis of the State of Connecticut using almost any indicator of socio-economic progress quickly reveals stark contradictions in the fortunes of its residents. Connecticut, one of the richest states in the nation is also home to some of the nation’s poorest cities; it is home to some of the most prestigious universities and schools in the nation, yet its academic achievement gap is among the highest in the nation, observable between wealthy and poor students, and between white students and students of color. The socio-economically disadvantaged in Connecticut’s urban cities tend to be people of color, trapped in schools that persistently fail to meet their need for a quality education; these residents are also likely to be underemployed, or lacking in job skills that would provide a livable wage, consequently they tend be under-insured, or uninsured

By legislation the AAAC was created to address the issues that affect the quality of life for African-Americans. It is paramount that the Commission ensures that equitable access is available leading to opportunities that lead to self-sufficient communities.

Since 1997, the AAAC has served the General Assembly by providing research and recommendations on educational, health, economic, environmental, justice, safety and quality of life issues affecting the African-American community in Connecticut. Despite the numerous gains achieved through civil rights legislation, disparities, based on race still exist.

For example, Glenn Cassis, Executive Director for the Commission, reported on a recent study published by Brandies University, “The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide” that nationally the median net worth of African-American households is $28,500 compared to $265,000 for whites. In Connecticut whites are twice as likely to own a home as African-Americans. These are just some of the findings that the Commission provides for policy makers. Consolidating the Commission into a Commission for Citizen Advocacy would marginalize the work and value of the AAAC.

The Commission has been actively engaged with the Racial Profiling Prohibition Project and the Alvin Penn Act. Federal dollars have been secured and are being used to establish policies to eliminate racial profiling in traffic stops, inform the public of their rights, better train law enforcement staff and to strengthen data collecting procedures.

During the press conference, representatives from state agencies, commissions, professional associations and community organizations that partner with the AAAC will discuss the important work that is contributed by the Commission. Included will be representatives from education, health equity, civil rights and economic development.

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