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LOSING GROUND: Series sparks community conversation

By: CAROL MCGRAW
February 23, 2013
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photo - Theo Wilson opens a discussion during a meeting of  "Barbershop Talk" at the New Montbello Barbershop in east Denver. The group gathers twice a week to address issues affecting African-American men. By some of the most important measures of social progress, black and Latino residents of Colorado have lost ground compared to white residents in the decades since the civil rights movement. Incarceration rates for black men is seven times that of whites.    (Joe Mahoney/The I-News Network) Photo by Staff Photographer
Theo Wilson opens a discussion during a meeting of "Barbershop Talk" at the New Montbello Barbershop in east Denver. The group gathers twice a week to address issues affecting African-American men. By some of the most important measures of social progress, black and Latino residents of Colorado have lost ground compared to white residents in the decades since the civil rights movement. Incarceration rates for black men is seven times that of whites. (Joe Mahoney/The I-News Network) Photo by Staff Photographer 

A series of stories that ran in The Gazette and other newspapers is sparking community conversations around Colorado and could lead to a new state commission to examine the economic state of minority groups.

The series, Losing Ground, which examined how Colorado minorities are worse off today despite civil rights legislation of the 1960s, spurred two state representatives to call for an investigation of the disparities.

The investigation revealed that Latinos and African-Americans in Colorado — two of the state’s fastest-growing groups — are behind in income, education, home ownership and health and face more poverty.

State Reps. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, and Angela Williams, D-Denver, plan to introduce a measure that would create a commission to look at the problem.

Losing Ground will be the topic of a dialogue in Colorado Springs. The free public event will be 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Tim Gill Center, 315 E. Costilla St.

READ THE SERIES HERE

A similar community event at the University of Colorado recently drew more than 100 people. The discussion generated a variety of opinions and concerns, said Jim Trotter, managing editor of I-News Network.

I-News, a public service journalism arm of Rocky Mountain PBS, spent 18 months on the series.

“We are gratified by the response to the series. We hope it will have an impact,” Trotter said, noting the stories drew attention from officials at several state agencies.

Panelists for the Colorado Springs event Thursday, which is sponsored by The Gazette, I-News and Rocky Mountain PBS, include Burt Hubbard, I-News reporter; Michelle Graham, director of business and community initiatives, Pikes Peak Workforce Development; J.D. Dallager, president and CEO, Pikes Peak United Way; and Heidi Lewis, assistant professor of feminist and gender studies, Colorado College.

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