What Is Racial Justice and Equity?

Racial justice and equity involves changes in public policy, practice and allocation of resources such that race or social justice constructs do not predict one’s success, while also improving opportunities and outcomes for all people in the community.

Why Is Racial Justice and Equity Needed in Peoria?

The data is clear that significant racial disparities exist in the City of Peoria and throughout Peoria County. The disparities by race in educational achievement, in many aspects of health, and in almost all economic measures are striking, especially for our Black population. Those disparities manifest themselves early in life and continue to resound throughout one’s lifespan.

Our community, like all communities in our country, struggles with the legacy of slavery and prejudice. That legacy is harmful not just to people of color, but to all community members — and jeopardizes the future successes of our community. We are committed to changing the impact of that legacy.

Why Was the Joint Commission on Racial Justice and Equity (RJE) Created?

In 2020, following the civil unrest in Peoria after the killing of George Floyd and others, a racial justice and equity coalition was convened that included City officials, County officials, State officials, interested residents, business, education and community leaders, and other key stakeholders. Its purpose was to identify recommendations to improve areas of racial justice and equity within our community and to establish a structure that would transition into a collective impact model that would engage the community and address issues for racial justice and equity. The Joint Commission on Racial Justice and Equity was established by joint resolution of the City of Peoria and Peoria County in 2021.

Have There Been Similar Initiatives in the Past to Combat Racism in Peoria?

Although many efforts, both formal and informal, have worked to address this issue Peoria, the RJE Commission is the first and is also unique: — both for its size and scale, involving hundreds of Peoria residents, and for being duly established and officially recognized as a joint entity of tthe City and County of Peoria.

What Is the Commission Trying To Accomplish?

Our mission is to accelerate efforts to institutionalize racial justice and equity within County and City government and to advance its adoption throughout the region. Our long-term vision is to end racism in City and County government and to achieve racial equity and justice across our community. Our goals include:

  • Establishment of racially inclusive leadership
  • Promotion of focused discussions on racial equity
  • Creation of a racial justice and equity strategic plan
  • Formation of focused work groups that advance pro-equity policies, procedures and systems in the various areas where racial inequities exist
  • Delivery of annual and periodic progress reports

What Is the Organizational Structure of the Commission?

The RJE Commission consists of one Steering Committee and eight working groups, each led by two co-chairs. Additional information about each of these entities can be found on their respective webpages:

Who Serves on the Commission?

The composition of our community-based, volunteer-driven Commission is intended to reflect the diverse demographics of the City of Peoria and Peoria County with respect to race, ethnicity, gender and age, as well as a broad cross-section of professional expertise, experience, and education. All RJE commissioners must reside in Peoria County, and none are paid for their work. The current membership of each working group can be found on their respective webpages (see links in the question above).

What Has the Commission Accomplished So Far?

In addition to creating and refining its organizational structure, the RJE Commission has examined best practices from other communities; gathered data to establish a baseline for future improvements; and begun to create recommendations and establish collaborative partnerships with other community members and organizations to put those recommendations into practice. The RJE Commission’s initial findings were detailed in our first annual report, available for download on our website.

Where Did the Commission Find the Data Used To Inform its Findings and Recommendations?

The data used to inform our findings was derived from local, state and federal sources — including the Illinois State Board of Education, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. EPA, Peoria City/County Health Department, Illinois Department of Public Data, Peoria Police Department, Peoria County Juvenile Probation Office and the Greater Peoria Mass Transit District.

What Are the Future Plans for the Commission?

  • 2024 Strategic Plan and Objectives
    1. Commission Strategic Plan
    2. Working group coordination
    3. Community Engagement Sessions
    4. REIA ordinance
    5. Social Media & Communications
    6. Recruitment & Onboarding
    7. 2024 Annual Report
  • Adapt to changing and evolving communities

How Can I Join the Commission or Support its Work?

Residents of Peoria County interested in serving on one of our working groups are encouraged to apply to join the Commission on our website. If you have additional questions or ideas to aid in these efforts, please email us at racialjustice@peoriacounty.gov.