Secretary of State
Kentucky Loses Ground in the Diversity of its Elected Officials
(Frankfort, KY) On the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and as part of the MLK Season of Service 2008, Secretary of State Trey Grayson released an update today to the 2006 United We Stand: Encouraging Diversity in Kentucky’s Leaders, a report that looks at racial diversity in Kentucky’s leaders. According to the report, Kentucky has lost ground since 2006 in the number of racially diverse leaders in the Commonwealth.
“These statistics are a sobering reminder that our leadership in this state does not represent the diversity of our population,” said Secretary Grayson, who is serving as an honorary co-chair of the MLK Season of Service with Congressman John Yarmuth (D-Louisville). “There are a number of potential great leaders in Kentucky who would diversify the leadership of our state in both elected and appointed positions. It is my hope that this report will serve as a resource and encouragement to those individuals to seek public office.”
The 2008 report is dedicated to the memory of the late Kentucky Supreme Court Justice William McAnulty, the first African-American to serve on the Supreme Court. Justice McAnulty is featured on the cover of the report, in a tribute letter from Secretary Grayson, and in a foreward by longtime McAnulty friend and colleague Justice Martin Johnstone.
Kentucky saw a slight decrease in diversity at the Supreme Court, Circuit Court, and Mayoral levels by one elected official. There was an unfortunate drop of 18 racially diverse members of Kentucky school boards after the 2006 elections, where most of Kentucky’s racial diversity was lost. There was no change in the number of State Senators, District Court Judges, and County Magistrates and Commissioners.
The report did include some encouraging statistics. Non-whites increased their representation on the Court of Appeals and House of Representatives by one member each. There was also a six member gain at the City Councilmember and Commissioner level.
Unfortunately, there is still a large dearth of diverse elected officials even at the local level. Overall, Kentucky saw a decrease from 139 racially diverse leaders in 2006 to 126 in 2007. At the federal level, Kentucky is represented by diverse leaders in Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, non-whites make up nearly 10% of Kentucky’s population, but they are not similarly represented in elected offices. African Americans make up a large portion of the diversity of Kentucky leadership. Only a few other minority racial categorizations are represented in Kentucky leadership.
In addition to statistics about the progress of diversity in Kentucky leadership, the report provides a number of resources to help individuals position themselves to be effective leaders in their communities. It includes a database of racially diverse elected officials from across the Commonwealth.
The report features sections on Secretary Chao, Representatives Reginald Meeks and Darryl Owens, Georgia Powers, the first African-American elected to the Kentucky State Senate, and Justice McAnulty.
“We must take a more active approach in order to gain a more diverse set of leaders for our Commonwealth,” remarked Grayson. “In addition to simply spotlighting the need for more diversity in our leadership, this report should serve as a catalyst for individuals to become more involved in their communities and possibly run for elective office.”
The original report was thought to be the first of its kind in Kentucky. Grayson acknowledged the report highlights only a small sampling of the diverse leadership that exists in the Commonwealth.
In 2008, the United States will honor the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr. King. 40 Days of Peace was established to call America to work together to build the “Beloved Community” that Dr. King spoke of and envisioned for America.
During the 40 Days of Peace, leaders and citizens are asked to sign a pledge of non-violence at www.40daysofpeace.org.
Police and district resource officers, neighborhood watch leaders and supporters, elected officials, police advisory members, neighborhood, business, and church leaders are invited to MLK Jr. Birthday Party tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. ET at First Virginia Ave Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.
“It is important for all of us to focus on Dr. King’s message of peace so that our communities can strengthen and become safer. Hopefully, young people will find role models contained within this report and follow in Dr. King’s legacy of making a lasting impact on their own community, state, and nation,” said Grayson.
The report can be accessed via the Office of the Secretary of State's website at http://www.sos.ky.gov/secdesk/initiatives/diversity.
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