U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Letter of Transmittal

Colorado Advisory Committee to
the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Members of the Commission
Mary Frances Berry, Chairperson
Cruz Reynoso, Vice Chairperson
Jennifer C. Braceras
Christopher Edley, Jr.
Peter N. Kirsanow
Elsie M. Meeks
Russell G. Redenbaugh
Abigail Thernstrom

Les Jin, Staff Director

Attached is a summary report based on a public forum convened by the Colorado Advisory Committee in May 2001, and supplemental research conducted by staff of the Rocky Mountain Regional Office. It provides a demographic overview of Grand Junction and Mesa County, a summary of the transcript of the Advisory Committee forum, and summary observations and recommendations.

The document also provides a survey of the employment characteristics of selected public institutions in the region: Mesa County, City of Grand Junction, Mesa County Valley School District 51, and Mesa State College. The survey is based on equal employment opportunity statistical data provided directly by the institutions to our office.

The Advisory Committee approved this report by a unanimous vote of 13 to 0. It is our sincere hope and expectation that it will be used as tool for the leadership of Grand Junction and Mesa County in addressing issues of equality and civil rights in the region. As noted in the document, the Committee believes that the human resources and capability exist locally to deal effectively with problems of racial and ethnic tensions, disparities in education and income, and the general socioeconomic divide that pervade the community. The region is blessed with many natural resources and is a vibrant and dynamic growth area of Colorado.

There is much reason for optimism. At the same time, the report documents that the gap separating the affluent and those struggling to survive has not narrowed. The socioeconomic divide has been persistent. Additionally, persons of color have not been full participants and beneficiaries of the political, educational, business, and civic institutions in Mesa County. Minority youth, in particular, are very much at risk and this is confirmed by the alarming achievement gap in the public schools and attendant overrepresentation of minorities in the juvenile justice system. The factors of low wages, insufficient affordable housing, and absence of family support services merely reinforce the cycle of inequality.

The report calls for the implementation of a dramatic and concerted set of policies, initiatives, and programs . . . to break the cycle and achieve vastly different and more positive outcomes in the future. It calls on elected officials, and civic, educational, and business leaders to accept this challenge.

The Colorado Advisory Committee wishes to express its gratitude to the many individuals, organizations, and institutions in Grand Junction and Mesa County who cooperated with our work. We trust that this report will be of value to the community.


Leo K. Goto, Chairperson
Colorado Advisory Committee