The Grand Junction Report: Issues of Equality in the Mesa Valley

Chapter 1

Background of the Project

As a part of its responsibility for monitoring civil rights issues, the Colorado Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights convened public forums in Fort Collins (1997), Pueblo (1999), and Grand Junction (2001). The purpose of these forums was to obtain information and a diversity of perspectives on the status of race relations in each of these Colorado communities, which serve as regional centers, Fort Collins (north), Pueblo (south), and Grand Junction (west).[1] The meetings were designed to solicit participation by elected officials, law enforcement agencies, educational institutions, civic and business interests, and community organizations. Each of these forums was well attended, received good media coverage, and was considered to be a significant undertaking. All three communities exhibited a high degree of civic pride and some viewed the Advisory Committee’s visit with apprehension. However, with very few exceptions, the level of voluntary cooperation was excellent, as in each community, the institutional and community leadership came forward to make significant contributions to the work of the Committee. University presidents, mayors and city councilpersons, county commissioners, police chiefs and sheriffs, school superintendents, attorneys, businessmen, and grassroots leaders all helped to make the forums representative of a broad spectrum of interests, and ensured substantive transcripts. These transcripts were made public, and in Pueblo and Fort Collins, follow-up meetings were scheduled with key elected officials to discuss concerns of the Committee.[2] The Pueblo forum, held in May 1999, helped to reinforce the efforts of community leaders to promote the establishment of an official city-county human relations commission, a goal that was finally realized in July 2001.

The purpose of this report is to summarize for the Advisory Committee the testimony presented at the Grand Junction forum, which was convened on May 7–8, 2001, at the Adams Mark Hotel. This document will also provide a brief demographic overview of Grand Junction and Mesa County, and summarize employment data provided by educational institutions and the county and city governments.

[1] Colorado Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Project Proposal, 1996.

[2] Colorado Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, transcripts of community forums held in Fort Collins (Mar. 27, 1997), Pueblo (May 14–15, 1999), and Grand Junction (May 7–8, 2001).