CITY PROFILE ON RACIAL EQUITY , New Orleans City Profile on Racial Equity When New Orleans Mayor set out to remove a series of confederate monuments lining the city’s spaces, it sparked national conversation—and action. But while the story captured the nation’s attention, the Mayor and the city’s efforts to address racial inequities and begin a process of racial reconciliation in New Orleans were both broader and more comprehensive than removing monuments celebrating the confederacy.

More than Just Monuments: Developing a Strategy for Racial Equity In 2016, the City of New Orleans created the Equity New Orleans strategy, designed to embed racial equity into the DNA of city government. The strategy examined the existing conditions impacting racial disparities by engaging the community and developing the infrastructure to act on the findings.

Beginning in 2016, in the city that once housed one of the country’s largest slave markets, A group of men play music as people sit in Jackson Square in the French Mayor Mitch Landrieu directed the Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. (Getty Images, 2018) city’s Deputy Mayor for Citywide Initiatives to create a process barriers or challenges for the city that would build racial equity into Equity New Orleans: Tools integrating equity throughout the fabric of city government. to Institutionalize Equity its activities?” and “What is “Because of race, we are too Across Administrations important to you about an often a block away from each equitable city government, and Using the data collected, the city other but a world apart,” said why does this matter to you?” The was able to develop an equity Mayor Landrieu. Key to designing data would establish a baseline strategy and identify future the strategy was identifying the understanding of equity across indicators that will be collected structural inequities experienced the city and inform a series of and reported by the city beginning by the city’s residents and the recommendations. in 2018. institutional approaches that can address them. The city’s In addition to these primary data, The Mayor’s leadership prioritized Director of Equity Strategy led the city used existing data from the City’s work around racial a small team that collected and external reports, national data sets equity in a way that would analyzed data from a broad and metrics from ResultsNOLA, the ensure it reached beyond his cross-section of the city, holding city’s performance management administration and continued four community listening sessions system, to build a picture of current to move forward by solidifying and hundreds of interviews inequities in New Orleans. Finally, a philanthropic funds for strategy and focus groups. Through a survey of 1,000 city employees was implementation and engaging the snowballing set of conversations, conducted to better understand community from the beginning by: stakeholders answered questions perceptions about equity as a • Making a solid investment like “What do you see as the key priority for city government. in equity from the City’s


• Finding private funding City: New Orleans, Louisiana Year Starting Racial Equity Work: 2006 • Putting senior leadership in charge of oversight Mayor: Mitchell J. Landrieu

• Partnering with the private Form of Municipal Government: Mayor-Council sector Population: 382,900 (2016)

• Engaging communities from Demographics: the beginning American Indian/ Alaska Native: 0.2%* Multi-racial: 1.6% The equity strategy builds on work Asian/ Islander: 2.9% that started at the beginning of Mayor Landrieu’s administration to: Latino/Hispanic (white/non-white): expand employment and business 5.5% opportunities for communities of color, make reforms to the White: 34% municipal justice system, expand affordable housing through the city’s Assessment of Fair Housing, Black: 59.8% reduce the historically high murder rate for Black men (NOLA for Life), plan for health equity, and develop a comprehensive resilience strategy. Knowing that a set of *5-year community estimates tools would be needed to help the city act on the data, the city set out to study the racial equity plans of other cities like Oakland, Seattle, Portland and Grand Rapids, • Creating city-wide and • Prioritizing workforce equity along with Multnomah and King departmental equity plans through training and a Counties, guiding New Orleans as dashboard to examine and • Tracking progress over time by it developed tools that would most eliminate disparities in human embedding equity in the city’s suit the city without reinventing the resources wheel. performance management system • Creating a public awareness At a large event in April 2017, campaign the city launched its equity • Requiring racial equity training strategy. Implementation of the for all employees and for those Since the strategy was launched components is ongoing, including: residents sitting on boards in April, 2017, city staff have and commissions continued to work with internal • Establishing an Equity Office stakeholders and peers in other • Expanding inclusive to work with entities across cities to provide information engagement strategies and city government and beyond about the Equity New Orleans access to civic processes model and technical assistance to • Working with all city through training and a guide department heads in furtherance departments to create equity for inclusive outreach and of their equity work. Department teams public engagement heads have received training on • Engaging leadership and staff • Launching a Racial Equity the development of equity plans throughout each department Community Roundtable and tools that would allow them to implement use of an equity including leaders from all to consider equity when building assessment tool sectors that will help to their department budgets. In • Incorporate equity as a increase the use of an equity December, 2017, the New Orleans component of the budgeting lens within the community and City Council demonstrated process their own organizations great leadership by unanimously

NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES NEW ORLEANS CITY PROFILE NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES NEW ORLEANS CITY PROFILE 3 Summary: New Orleans Making Racial Equity More 1 Than Monuments: Mayor Landrieu took a key step in reckoning with the racialized implications of New Orleans’ history by not only taking down confederate monuments but using this as an opportunity to question historical narratives.

Developing a Comprehensive 2 Equity Strategy: New Orleans undertook a significant community- wide and city government-wide wide process to develop its comprehensive equity strategy.

Prioritizing Racial Healing as adopting the Equity New Orleans their experiences with race. The 3 a Key Strategy for Advancing strategy by resolution and discussions led to action taken by Racial Equity: The Mayor’s public promoting equity as a key value eight resident circles from across apology and the city’s commitment of city government. In 2018, the the city and the creation of 22 to using the Welcome Table City will begin to implement the reconciliation projects. process lay the foundation for the strategy fully. The Winter Institute provided city’s racial reconciliation and racial Engaging the Community technical assistance during the equity work. to Begin the Healing first year of the city-wide initiative Process and trained New Orleans residents to lead discussion circles in The city’s racial reconciliation work the final two years. As a result, did not begin with the confederate residents who participated were monuments. Beginning in 2014, more comfortable talking about the city laid the groundwork race, including the impacts and that it actually stood for are an for a comprehensive reckoning root causes of structural racism. affront to our true history.” with race. In addition to a public apology from Mayor Landrieu Summarizing the process the city for the historical and systemic has gone through, Mayor Landrieu racial barriers that impacted said, “If you scratch just below Black people across the country, the surface like we did, there is the city launched the Welcome hidden from view a very deep Table New Orleans. Using a model cut that goes to the very heart of developed at the William Winter our nation. Centuries old wounds Institute for Racial Reconciliation, are still raw, because they never based at the University of healed right in the first place. , as a starting point and There is a difference between partnering with the Urban League remembrance of history and the of Greater New Orleans, the City reverence of it. Monuments that developed a three-year process celebrate a fictional, sanitized that brought people from different confederacy, but ignore the death, backgrounds together to share the enslavement and the terror

NLC’s Race, Equity and Leadership (REAL) initiative serves to strengthen local elected officials’ knowledge and capacity to eliminate racial disparities, heal racial divisions, and build more equitable communities. Learn more at www.nlc.org/REAL This City Profile is part of a larger series made possible through the generous contributions of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

© 2018 National League of Cities. All Rights Reserved.