Knoxville City Council will appoint its first members to the African American Equity Restoration Task Force during its meeting next Tuesday. The task force will consist of the following members: George Underwood, Enkeshi El-Amin, Brandon Hardin, Regina Olum, Anderson Olds, Dave Miller, Deborah Porter, Matthew Best, Tanisha Fitzgerald Baker, Bill Lyons, Stanley Taylor, and Gwen McKenzie.

These members were selected from applicants that qualified as business, community, financial, educational, faith, health care, youth, and city leaders. According to the council documents, the task force will determine its organizational and leadership structure during its first meeting.

As The Tennessee Star reported, Mayor Indya Kincannon allocated $100,000 for this task force. The funds make up a minor portion of what the city hopes to invest. In January, the city projected that it would source at least $100 million in government grants over the next seven years for the task force.

The task force was created in December following a request from Vice Mayor Gwen McKenzie. The resolution creating the task force issued a lengthy apology for the city’s past impacts on its Black community.

Among the past grievances that the resolution addressed included the projects under a federal program called Urban Renewal, which lasted from 1959 to 1974. The projects largely displaced Black community members and businesses to construct public buildings and roadways. According to the city council resolution, about 2,500 Black individuals were displaced and thereby destined to generational poverty because of the program. A reported 42 percent of Knoxville’s Black community lives in poverty.

The task force’s duty will be to develop policy that ends generational poverty, as well as ensures equity in local government and the community.

Other information for the task force – such as its estimated project schedule, prior action and review, fiscal information, recommendations, and other options for action – hasn’t been provided.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinnejournalist@gmail.com.
Photo “Knoxville Skyline” by Nathan C. Fortner. CC BY-SA 3.0.