Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Community leaders launch city-wide equity initiative

Angela Leon

Community leaders and activists stood on the south steps of the Texas State Capitol to announce a new initiative designed to broaden efforts to make Austin a better model of justice, unity and equity.

Dream Together 2030 is a social initiative aimed at providing more equitable avenues for communities in need by the year 2030. It was announced in conjunction with commemorating the 60th anniversary of the 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sterling Lands II, an architect of the initiative, said the goal is to address the effects of historical harms and resolve issues around access to equitable opportunities for all people without regard to race, creed or color. 

“I believe that everybody should be looking for a better environment — racially, socially, politically and economically,” Lands said. “So the fact that we came together is a big deal.”

Lands described equity as looking beyond genetic equality and encouraging access to resources and needs without limitations.

The seven-year plan hopes for solutions in the fields of early education, foster and adoption support, food needs, relational connections, workforce development, economic empowerment and community safety. 

Lands said the initiative transpired during a strategizing meeting with several community leaders on how to celebrate the anniversary of King’s speech. Joe Bland, CEO of Joe Bland Construction, came up with the idea to develop the plan to apply King’s dream for a more unified Austin.

“We’ve made great strides (since King’s speech), but at the same time, we need to acknowledge that we’ve fallen far short of the mark,” Bland said.

The initiative comes amid community concerns about the state’s curbing of diversity, equity and inclusion programs, criminal justice reform, housing, equitable treatment in small businesses and healthcare and the recent surge in hate crimes last year, among others. 

Zion James, an educational leadership and policy graduate student at UT, believes there should be enforced efforts to ensure the goals of this initiative are met. 

“There’s so much in Austin to try to fix,” James said. “The only way they’ll be able to achieve it is by following up on the plan every year and ensuring they’re providing adequate solutions.”

Bland said that so far over 100 people have signed up to contribute to the initiative, and the first strategy meeting will take place next Thursday night at Greater Mt. Zion Church in Austin.

“We are all created in God’s image,” Bland said. “Let’s treat each other like we are and work together to solve some of the ills in our society.”

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