What do you think are the important issues that must be addressed to have a positive improvement on African Americans in Kansas?  That’s exactly what the Kansas Black Leadership Council wants to know. 

The organization formed in 2015 to advocate for issues of importance to African Americans in Kansas, will gather Oct. 1 in Junction City to adopt their 2017 Legislative Platform. 

Ahead of adopting the platform, members of the organization’s steering committee are attempting to better understand the concerns of Black Kansans. 

“We want to make sure the platform truly identifies the concerns of Kansans across the state,” says Bonita Gooch, KBLC president. 

African Americans across the state are asked to complete the survey either online or via hard copy.  A link to the online survey is available on the KBLC website – www.Kansasblc.com.  The survey takes about 5 minutes to complete.  A pdf version of the survey is also available online.  It can be printed and made available for completion via hard and mailed in. 

KBLC members are encouraging individuals, churches and organizations to help spread the word about the survey. 

“We want to make sure those individuals who don’t have access to computers to have an opportunity to participate in the survey,” says Gooch.  “We’re encouraging groups and churches to print out the survey, share it, and to encourage completing it as a group.  We’d love to see surveys mailed back to us in bulk.  That would be a wonderful indication of collaboration on the part of our community.”

Once adopted, KBLC will work to encourage the adoption of policies and laws that can help bring about positive change identified in the platform. 

In 2016, KBLC adopted an eight-point platform that addressed issues such as payday lending laws, repeal of the state’s restrictive voter registration laws, increase in the state’s minimum wage and a comprehensive package of criminal justice reform revisions.  (The 2016 platform can be seen online at www.kansasblc.com) The platform was forwarded to state legislators and many elected officials across the state. 

It’s an approach that is aggressively pursued by other interest groups across the state, such as the Kansas Chamber, farmer’s organizations, and even the LGBT community. However, KBLC’s 2016 approach was a unique one for African Americans in Kansas, who are typically underrepresented and rarely heard from in the state’s political process. 

During the 2016 legislative session, KBLC introduced two pieces of legislation in support of their platform and collaborated with other organizations who were also working on issues identified in the KBLC platform. 

African Americans from across the state are invited to participate in the KBLC Platform convention on Oct. 1.   The event will be held in Junction City at the Junction City Opera House.  Registration is free, however individuals can purchase an optional lunch for $10 and/or become a KBLC voting member for an additional $10. Organization memberships are $50. Registration for the conference is available online at eventbrite.com. 

Numerous organizations across the state are collaborating with KBLC for the convention and the adoption of the platform including the Kansas African American Affairs Commission and the Kansas State Conference of NAACP Branches. 

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