A group of Colorado lawmakers want the state to conduct a study on the legacy of slavery and the ongoing impact of racism on Black Coloradans.
They say the numbers tell the story – disparities by race persist on everything from homeownership, to education and health outcomes.
“We know those disparities still exist and in some places they exist very clearly along the historic redlines of Denver,” said Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver.
Redlining is the discriminatory practice of denying services such as mortgages and insurance to people in certain neighborhoods – based on race.
Members of the Democratic Black Caucus want History Colorado to conduct a study, backed by data, on the impacts of racial discrimination – in order to map a path forward for a different future.
“What really binds us in our work is being able to question some of the systems around us and dismantle them so that we can find better outcomes for African Americans as well as our neighbors across the state,” said Rep. Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver.
Bill SB24-053, the Racial Equity Study, states that “the Ku Klux Klan wielded great influence and power in Denver and in state politics in the 1920s… the Klan controlled many members of the legislature… some of the most notable Klansmen at the time included the mayor and police chief of Denver and the governor of Colorado… the impact of those in power transpires into policies, systems and practices adopted at the state level. Those policies, systems and practices are built upon over decades and further ingrain inequities that have a disparate impact on Black Coloradans.”
Denver Sen. James Coleman said, “this study is so important because when we go to the capitol people always ask, ‘what is the purpose of what we’re doing? What does the data show? Why are we running these kinds of policies?'”
The Caucus is hoping support for the study will cross party lines. It would not be funded at taxpayer expense, but instead by private grants and donations.
“In Colorado, I love the fact that we are bipartisan. 80 to 85% of our bills we pass every single year are bipartisan and so this is one of those bills we’re hoping to be a part of that,” said Coleman.
At a time when the country is bitterly divided, these Caucus leaders say there’s no time for drama and political theater.
“Recently, we have seen some of the politics of Washington coming into the state Capitol. Under our leadership we have been working to ensure that we bring down some of that divisiveness, some of those personal attacks so that we can focus on the work at hand,” said Herod.
And urgent is the work, to give voice – the caucus says – to people who’ve historically been disenfranchised.
“When we take on issues in civil rights, it helps everyone,” added Bacon.
You can see all of our conversation with members of the Black Caucus.
Catch it on our stream, CBS News Colorado on Monday Jan. 29 at 8 p.m.