A diverse group of 23 people, including seven blacks, seven whites and seven Hispanics — community leaders and professional women and men from all walks of life — will be represented on the city’s Race and Culture Task Force.
The task force of 12 women and 11 men — including a member of the LGBT community — is expected to be appointed Aug. 1 by the City Council.
Task force member Bishop Mark Kirkland — an outspoken critic of Mayor Betsy Price and council members— said improving race relations will involve facing some “cruel reality” about Fort Worth.
“This is not a make-believe problem,” Kirkland said. “This is a real problem. For a long time we pretended it didn’t exist. Of course we can heal. It begins with our honesty. It can get better with making decisions and finding ways to right some wrongs, particularly to some black people in our city.”
Kirkland and others in the black community have been chastising elected city officials since January for lacking leadership in events surrounding the volatile case of Jacqueline Craig and other police-related incidents.
Bob Ray Sanders, of the Fort Worth Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce, one of the committee’s four co-chairs, said about 150 people volunteered or were nominated to be on the task force.
“It was a long and interesting session to get to that point,” Sanders said of adding 19 others to the list. One person declined because of business commitments, he said.
Earlier this month, the City Council held a special meeting to appoint Sanders, Rosa Navejar, owner of the Rios Group; Rabbi Andrew Bloom with Congregation Ahavath Sholom; and Lillie Biggins, president of Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth, to lead the city’s efforts in improving race relations.
It feels like we’re at a time when calmer heads need to prevail. There’s going to need to be some humility on all sides.
Jennifer Trevino, on the Fort Worth Race and Culture task force
Estrus Tucker, with Fairness Fort Worth, will serve as a paid consultant in the process. The National League of Cities will also help. The task force will be given a year to develop recommendations.
The move was made in the wake of the December arrest of Craig and her two daughters by police officer William Martin, which drew widespread attention after a video of the incident went viral and following an initial report by the National League of Cities on race relations conducted earlier this year.
Kirkland has been calling for a citizen review board on police issues, and he said he will do so as a recommendation from the task force.
“I know I’m a bit aggressive,” Kirkland said. But, he said, “I know when to be tolerant and when to be non-tolerant. I’m going to work with the board.”
Jennifer Trevino, unsuccessful for the District 2 council seat in the May election, is also being appointed. She said she hopes to use her skills in getting people to work together as a member “to have tough conversations” about how to move Fort Worth forward.
“It feels like we’re at a time when calmer heads need to prevail,” Trevino said. “There’s going to need to be some humility on all sides.”
In addition, the task force will include: Charles Boswell, a former Fort Worth city manager; Walter Dansby, former Fort Worth schools superintendent; Robert Fernandez; Miriam Frias; Robert Goldberg, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth; Yolanda Harper, a black business owner; Nima Malek; Rattana Mao, Roxanne Martinez; Arturo Martinez; Judy McDonald; Terri Mossige; Cory Session; Katie Sherrod; Ty Stimpson; Monica Vasquez; and the Rev. Tim Woody.