Democrats have historically been great at pressing for greater minority access to justice. Republicans have stressed the opportunity side of the problem of poverty and discrimination. Neither party has been able to formulate policy templates that effectively consider and embrace this challenge from a broader perspective.
Bringing minority communities into full participation in our culture, politics and economy requires more than a poverty agenda. We need a prosperity agenda. Understanding how to make this happen begins by asking questions, not making pronouncements. The Civil Rights Institute is working to do this.
Launched by Regina Roundtree, a black Republican activist in Connecticut, the goal of TCRI is to support research and policy formation that can open up economic as well as political opportunity for marginalized communities. I got involved with TCRI through a friend, Richard Ivory, who founded HipHopRepublican.com, but the organization’s leadership extends beyond Republican and African-American circles.
Our initial goal is to revisit the findings of the Kerner Commission, which was assembled by President Johnson to explore the roots of urban riots in the ‘60’s. Current events emphasize that issues addressed by the Commission in 1968 remain depressingly timely today. We are interviewing university researchers willing to utilize a community-focused methodology to measure progress toward the Commission’s goals and determine levels of support for potential policy alternatives.
The research itself will be funded by grants, but we need to establish a base of public support to help get the organization established. Grassroots support of this kind will be key to earning other forms of institutional backing critical to TCRI’s future. That’s why I’m posting this link to a fundraising page for TCRI.
Our fundraising goals are very modest. A little goes a very long way at this point. It is my hope that TCRI may join a growing constellation of center-right institutions pressing both parties toward more responsive urban policy. I hope you’ll help me with this goal.