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Local leaders meet to discuss racial equity in Iowa

More than 100 community leaders and government officials gathered on Friday at the Iowa City Sheraton.

Community leaders and government officials from across the state are beginning to build the strategies for better racial equity in Iowa.

At a conference at the Iowa City Sheraton on Friday, the Center for Social Inclusion shared ways to work together during "Advancing Racial Equity: The Role of Government - Iowa."

"It's critical that government have this conversation," director of government alliance on race and equity Julie Nelson said. "We know that government has played a role in the creation of racial inequities and if we want to get to different outcomes - if we really want to achieve equity - government's got to play a role in it."

The C.S.I. has a six-step toolkit for community groups and local governments to use to pursue racial equity:

- Desired result

- Analysis of data

- Community engagement

- Strategies for racial equity

- Implementation plan

- Communications and accountability

The notion of community engagement brought the most conversation - not necessarily the promotion of it, but how governments can work to speak for those who don't or can't make their voices heard.

"I think sometimes when we define 'community,' it's strictly focused on who engages the most - and we know that there's tons of people - regardless if they're marginalized or not - that don't engage," Iowa City mayor pro tem Kingsley Botchway said. "So it's making sure that they're part of the conversation as well - but assuring within that community engagement that we focus on those marginalized populations."

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