Feb 26, 2021 - News

What they're saying: The state of Denver's Black communities

Clockwise from top left: Leslie Herod, Wellington Webb, Halisi Vinson and Tay Anderson. Photos: AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images; Jason Connolly/AFP via Getty Images; Courtesy of Halisi Vinson; Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Black History Month ends this weekend, the first after a year marked by a national reckoning of racial injustice and a deadly pandemic that has disproportionately harmed Black communities across the country.

We asked four prominent leaders to reflect on the state of Denver's Black communities.

Wellington Webb, former Denver mayor:

  • "[It's] the same as it is all across the country. We survived a coup d'etat [on Jan. 6]. We're fighting for the soul of America. And we're fighting systemic racism."
  • "I have hope because of 400 years of struggle that have allowed us to continue to survive and am also inspired by the coalition of young people and races that have come together to fight."

Leslie Herod, Democratic state representative in Denver

  • "[It] is quickly evolving. We've made bold changes ... and people are using this momentum that was created this past year to make change not only through the political process, but also in their own places of work, their homes, their schools and our community."
  • "I know that change will continue."

Halisi Vinson, Colorado Democratic Party executive director:

  • "It feels a little bit ungrateful to complain about the state of Black America here in Denver when I compare it to other cities."
  • "We are hopeful because we see change — we see progress — but we are hesitant because we've seen this before, and it's hard to get heartbroken time after time."

Tay Anderson, Denver school board member:

  • "It wouldn't be right for me to [say], 'The state of Black Denver is strong,' because we've been ravaged by a pandemic. We have been in the streets chanting that our lives matter. And we are still trying to bring light to the injustices that are playing out in our community."
  • "We have a lot of work to do."

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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