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Kansas City's Urban Summit leaders say more than a level playing field needed to close the wealth gap

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Four-hundred years of economic advantage have created a wealth gap in this country. Now Black advocates are calling for more than equal access, they're asking for reparative justice.

Expect the 14th annual Urban Summit of Kansas City to focus on the racial wealth gap and produce a strategy defining its advocacy agenda for 2022.

This year's Urban Summit of Kansas City poses the question "Is equity enough?"

To answer that Ajuma Webster, who will speak at the summit, said we need to look at the public and private policies that contributed to the economic gap so that African Americans only own 2% of the wealth in this country.

Without addressing the impediments that keep the Black population from the opportunities given to white community members Webster observed, "there's no possibility that we can catch up."

It would take 228 years for African Americans to accumulate wealth equal to that of their white counterparts today, according to Gwendolyn Grant, CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City.

Grant said there will be "recommendations relative to reparations," introduced at this year's summit.

Many of those opposed to reparations, according to Webster, are the people who benefited from government policies putting them at an economic advantage.

The government created policies that developed the white middle class but "has put shackles on the development of the African American community," said Webster.

"We need to invest in really giving people more than just equal access," Grant said. "You got to build and pay the past debt."

Urban Summit Annual Conference, 6 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021 at Penn Valley Community College, 3201 Southwest Trafficway, Kansas City Missouri, 64111. Registration is needed.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Reginald David is an assistant producer with Up To Date. You can reach him at reginalddavid@kcur.org.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz
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