Aurora mayor tapped to lead state's new commission to improve the lives of black males

  • Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin teaches middle school boys how to tie a tie during a mentorship initiative the Mayor's Office sponsored last school year with Indian Prairie Unit District 204 through the Mayor's Mentoring Alliance.

    Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin teaches middle school boys how to tie a tie during a mentorship initiative the Mayor's Office sponsored last school year with Indian Prairie Unit District 204 through the Mayor's Mentoring Alliance. Courtesy of City of Aurora

 
 
Posted12/25/2020 1:00 AM

In his second statewide appointment this year, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin has been tapped to help lead efforts to improve the lives of Black males in Illinois.

The state of Illinois announced Irvin's appointment to the inaugural Commission on the Social Status of Black Males, a statewide initiative led by state Rep. LaShawn K. Ford (D-Chicago).

 

Ford sponsored the progressive legislation HR390, which created the Commission, to study the social conditions of Black males in Illinois, develop strategies to remedy or assist in remedying severe adversities, and make recommendations to improve their educational, social, economic, and employment opportunities.

"While we proposed and passed HR390 before the current focus of racial reckoning in America, it is unfolding at an appropriate time," Rep. Ford said. "We have assembled a team of leaders and advocates with proven experience who will work together to develop a framework which can be used throughout the state as we strive to improve the lives of Black males in Illinois."

The commission is comprised of 14 members throughout the state who have worked in their respective communities on issues of equity and parity, particularly with Black males. Commissioners include state and municipal elected officials, community advocates, and youth representatives.

During the commission's inaugural meeting this week, members selected Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin to serve as the Chief Commissioner.

"I am honored to accept this appointment to serve our state," said Mayor Irvin. "As a Black male raised by a single mother in public housing who now has the privilege of serving as mayor of my hometown, I know firsthand what is possible. I am also very well aware of the structural and social barriers that prevent many from realizing and achieving those possibilities. Together, our team will lead the efforts of identifying and removing those barriers, implement strategies to increase opportunities, and focus on having a generational impact on our communities."

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Co-chairs of the commission are Rep. LaShawn Ford, Rep. Nicholas Smith, Rep. Michael Marron, and Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst; Commissioners include Chief Commissioner Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin, Congressman Danny Davis, Cook County Commissioner Dennis Deer, Revin Fellows, Hubert Harrington, Dr. Stanley Howard, Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, Aaron Mallory, Dawson Pickens, Isaiah Shelton, Calumet City Alderman Anthony Smith.

The commission began meeting virtually this month, with plans for an upcoming news conference to unveil long-term goals and immediate plans for the future.

"The work of the commission is an ideal complement to and extension of our Aurora CHANGE Reform Initiative," said Mayor Irvin. "As we progress to the next phase of CHANGE as a city, we'll have a strong focus on equity, inclusion, and community initiatives that have a systemic impact. I'll be leaning on many of our Aurora leaders for insight as we develop new citywide and statewide plans."

Mayor Irvin's leadership on the commission marks his second statewide appointment this year.

The governor also asked him to serve on the Illinois Renew, Reinvest and Renew (R3) Board. The R3 Board allocates 25% of Illinois cannabis tax revenue to fund grants that provide services to repair the harm caused by economic disinvestment, violence, and the war on drugs in impacted areas of the state.

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