Mayor Young Establishes Office of Equity on Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Wednesday Jan 15th, 2020
BALTIMORE, MD. — Today, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced the establishment of a new Office of Equity in Baltimore City government. In addition to its overarching mission to carry out activities to eliminate discrimination and protect individuals' civil rights, the newly named Office of Equity & Civil Rights will also be charged with ensuring, citywide, that our policies, programs and budget are fair, and meet the needs of Baltimore City’s diverse communities.
“City government plays a huge role in the daily lives of residents and it's primary function is to serve the public,” said Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young. “As Mayor, it is my responsibility to create an office that will inform my decisions on how we as a city address inequities that have been prevalent in our beloved Baltimore communities. This new office will allow me a single portal to monitor and address equity issues, in both the public and private sectors, and reflects my priority to create a more equitable city and a more equitable city government that puts the residents of Baltimore first. It is my incredible honor to be able to establish this new office on the birthday of our nation's greatest civil rights champion, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
The name change will not impact the role of the current office. Darnell E. Ingram, Esq. will remain in his role as Director of the office in its new configuration. Ingram said his enthusiasm for the mayor’s decision to add Equity to the Office of Civil Rights' current mandate could be summed up in author Bryan Stevenson’s quote from his book “Just Mercy.” In the book, Stevenson, Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama, writes, “many think the opposite of poverty is wealth; however, in many cases the opposite of poverty is justice.”
“Since the Office of Civil Rights currently serves as the city’s EEOC office and the office to which residents come seeking remedy for claims of police misconduct, discrimination, violations of public accommodations laws, and, unfair wage practices, the Office of Equity should be added to our mandate, and we welcome and applaud the mayor’s decision to house it here,” said Director Darnell E. Ingram, Esq.
Equity has been on the city’s radar for some time now. In fact, on December 10, 2017, the Open Society Institute held a “Solutions Summit in Baltimore,” and at the end released the following conclusion that the City of Baltimore should “Establish an Office of Racial Equity within the mayor’s office that is charged with bringing racial equity to all city programs and removing systemic barriers to the fair and just distribution of resources, access, and opportunity.”
Local NAACP branch President Kobi Little who is a “non- voting member” of the City’s Civilian Review Board, said “Without equity in decision making in government, be it local, state or federal, there can be no economic justice, and the lack of economic justice is at the heart of today’s fight for civil rights. The battle for equity is the new ‘civil rights struggle.’ I applaud the mayor’s decision to place the new Equity Office under the auspices of the City’s Office of Civil Rights, not just because it is the portal through which the people lodge their complaints of inequity, but because it is the voice through which city government responds to calls from the residents for change and remedy.”
Anil Lewis, Executive Director of Blindness Initiatives for the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), said, “Equity is asymmetrical, which fits better in the context of providing public services to every citizen because everyone is entitled to have access to information and opportunity. However, the methods and strategies used to achieve this access may differ based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and disability, and the strategy used to gain access are often not equal. Therefore, the goal of offering equity that leads to the same access should be the fundamental objective of every elected official when making decisions related to the public good, and the obligation to enforce these fundamental civil rights should be the responsibility of the Office of Civil Rights.”