Gov. Wolf Helps Dedicate Monument to Old 8th Ward on Capitol Grounds, Highlights Fight Against Systemic Racism

first_img August 26, 2020 Equality,  Press Release Governor Tom Wolf joined legislators and Harrisburg area elected and community leaders for the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the state Capital Complex of a monument honoring the city’s Old 8th Ward. The diverse and densely populated neighborhood was razed to make way for an expansion of the Capitol property starting in the early 1900s.The event also celebrated Women’s Equality Day, marking the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, and the 150th anniversary of the 15th Amendment.“The activists of the 8th Ward cared about equality, and they were educated about it and fought for it,” said Gov. Wolf. “The destruction of the 8th Ward disrupted this activism but did not end it. The seeds of change had been sown, and over the decades since, more wrongs were righted, and more people were enlightened.“Each passing generation recognized with increasing acuity the injustices present in the very foundation of this country.”Following his remarks, the governor participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new monument on the lawn of the K. Leroy Irvis Building near the intersection of 4th and Walnut streets in Harrisburg. A coalition of citizens, civic organizations and educational institutions created the monument. It features four statues of influential Harrisburg residents from the 1800s: William Howard Day, civil rights pioneer; Frances Harper, abolitionist and suffragette; Jacob T. Compton, sergeant in the U.S. Colored Infantry; and T. Morris Chester, Civil War correspondent.The governor also acknowledged that discrimination and racism still exist in Pennsylvania. During his remarks, the governor described efforts of his administration to create a more just Pennsylvania and dismantle systemic racism.Each year the governor has been in office he has proposed a minimum wage increase to address poverty wages and help more hardworking people enter the middle class. The governor believes too many people are struggling to get by because Pennsylvania has not raised the wage in more than a decade. The majority of states, including all of our neighbors, have a higher minimum wage.The governor also has made criminal justice reform a priority. In 2018, the governor signed the landmark Clean Slate Law that is helping thousands who committed low-level offenses and have paid their penalty to get back on the path to a blemish-free record, removing potential roadblocks to jobs, housing, health care and education. The governor has also signed laws extending the time a convicted individual has to file a post-conviction relief action to one year, from what was 60 days under current law, as well as a law to eliminate driver’s license suspensions for non-driving infractions.Last month, the governor signed two laws in his comprehensive police reform plan created in the wake of the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. The laws improve mental health and background checks of law enforcement officers. The reform plan also creates a deputy inspector general within the Pennsylvania Office of State Inspector General to detect and end any misconduct among law enforcement agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction. A new advisory commission that the deputy inspector general will oversee will review any allegations of misconduct.To expand opportunities to grow minority businesses and expand opportunities for employment, the Wolf Administration has implemented several reforms to state government. In 2017, the governor launched the Fair-Chance hiring policy for state agencies that removes the criminal conviction question, otherwise known as “banning the box,” from non-civil service employment applications for agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction. The administration also no longer asks job candidates their salary history, so people are evaluated on their skills and experience, rather than a past paycheck.Continuing the governor’s commitment to level the playing field for small businesses and small diverse businesses to compete for state contracts, the Wolf Administration is using new procurement policies to improve opportunities for minority-, women-, LGBT-, veteran- and people with disabilities-owned businesses. The changes are the results of an executive order the governor signed in 2015 to create the Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities (BDISBO) within the Department of General Services. The bureau conducted a statewide disparity study, which found disparities in the state’s contracting system which resulted in new policies.To examine issues around how the pandemic is affecting the state’s minority and marginalized populations, the governor and Lt. Governor John Fetterman created a COVID-19 Response Task Force for Health Disparity, which released a report earlier this month. The report includes six recommendations focused on these policy topics related to health disparity, ranked in order of urgency: housing, criminal justice, food insecurity, health disparity, education and economic opportunities. The task force report builds on the work of the Department of Health’s Health Equity Response Team, which is battling the pandemic and health inequities that exist beyond COVID.“There’s still more to be done, but I can’t do this alone and I need the help of everyone,” said Gov. Wolf. “I need activists to continue to call on leaders to fight for equality and reform. I need educators to teach community members about injustice, so the next generations continue to be increasingly aware of systemic racism and equality.” Gov. 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