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Mon May 5, 2008
Forming a Black Brown Coalition
By Susan Wilson
Kansas City, MO – African Americans and Latinos are the two largest minority groups in the United States. But recently, the percentage of Latinos nationwide has grown to 14 %, surpassing the 12% of African Americans. In the Kansas City metro area, African Americans still double the number of Latinos, that's 13% compared to 6.5%. Many African Americans and Latinos have common civil rights interests; but cultural, political and historical differences can lead to tension and misunderstandings.
A few local leaders believed that it was critical to begin to build bridges of understanding between these groups. In fact, the Urban League of Kansas City, the NAACP and the Coalition of Hispanic Organizations attempted just that and the Black Brown Coalition was born. In 2006, leaders began meeting, and many African Americans and Latinos did stand together to protest Mayor Funkhousers' recent appointment of Francis Semler to the Park Board. However, the road to consensus has been rocky. Urban League President Gwen Grant and Coalition of Hispanic Organizations President Rita Valenciano stopped by our studio to talk about their goals and the challenges of consensus building across the cultural divide.