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Greenville Racial Equity & Economic Mobility Commission Launches, Commits to Meaningful Change

Published Wednesday, August 26, 2020 11:00 am

The inaugural members of the newly formed Greenville Racial Equity and Economic Mobility (REEM) Commission convened this week to continue the challenging work of studying and reflecting on racial inequities in Greenville County’s Black community and the partnerships needed to create meaningful solutions.

A joint effort by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Greenville County, and Urban League of the Upstate, the REEM Commission grew from ongoing community conversations to identify and address systemic racial barriers in Greenville County by understanding the data revealing stark disparities. The group plans to collaboratively develop systems-level strategies, partnering with community institutions to implement significant change in the areas of racial inequities, social justice, and other key gaps identified as focus areas of the Black community.

The REEM Commission is composed of leaders across Greenville County, including:

  • Merl F. Code, Ogletree Deakins, REEM Commission Co-Chair
  • David Lominack, TD Bank, REEM Commission Co-Chair
  • Meghan Barp, United Way of Greenville County
  • Peggy Baxter, Community Advocate
  • Karen Baynes-Dunning, Community Advocate
  • Kennedy Brown, Youth Advocate
  • Matt Caldwell, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System
  • Elizabeth Davis, Furman University
  • Pastor Sean Dogan, Long Branch Baptist Church
  • Jessica Donan, EY
  • Joe Erwin, Endeavor
  • Traci Fant, Freedom Fighter’s Upstate Foundation
  • Reverend J. M. Flemming, NAACP
  • Rich Hagins, US&S
  • Robert Hughes, Hughes Development
  • Butch Kirven, Greenville County Council
  • Sheriff Hobart Lewis, Greenville County Sheriff’s Department
  • Amy Linsin, Prisma Health
  • Stacey Mills, USC Upstate
  • Bob Morris, Community Foundation of Greenville
  • S.T. Peden, Minority Economic Development Institute
  • Carlos Phillips, Greenville Chamber of Commerce
  • Jason Richards, NAI Earle Furman
  • Dr. Burke Royster, Greenville County Schools
  • Liz Seman, Furman University, Greenville County Council
  • Minor Shaw, Micco LLC
  • Katy Smith, Greenville Partnership for Philanthropy
  • Deputy Chief Howie Thompson, Greenville Police Department
  • Gage Weekes, Hollingsworth Funds
  • Mayor Knox White, City of Greenville
  • Dr. Nika White, Nika White Consulting
  • Will Whitley, Michelin North America
  • Baxter Wynn, Community Advocate

During the launch meeting, the group committed to ground its ongoing work in anti-racist transformation; gather ideas to improve equity and economic mobility strategies in Greenville County; mobilize around identified top priorities; and establish follow-through and accountability metrics for focus areas.

Conversations in the REEM Commission’s first meeting were centered on research presented in United Way’s recent Racial and Economic Mobility Index (REMI) study. The study highlights six focus areas of disparity identified in the Black community, including:

  • Educational Attainment and Workforce Development
  • Health and Wellness
  • Income, Wealth and Economic Mobility
  • Senior Population (Aging and Poverty)
  • Justice System and Policing
  • Community-wide Racial Equity Education

“When the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Greenville County, and the Urban League of the Upstate issued a joint statement in mid-June condemning racism in light of the murder of George Floyd, we suggested the formation of this Commission to examine racial inequities in Greenville County, and improving the odds of economic mobility for African Americans in our community,” said Judge Merl F. Code, REEM Commission co-chair.

“This work is necessary, and the time is now to work together as a community to address and start to heal the systemic racial inequities and social injustice embedded in our society,” said David Lominack, South Carolina market president of TD Bank and REEM Commission co-chair. “The REEM Commission commits to enact meaningful change in Greenville, change that comes by studying and reflecting on our past, and carving a more inclusive, equitable way forward.”

Click here to learn more about the REEM Commission. The full Racial and Economic Mobility Index study can be viewed online at www.unitedwaygc.org/rei.

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