By Justin Adams

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado State Rep. James Coleman saw the protests over the summer, but he felt there was a bigger issue facing the African-American community.

(credit: CBS)

“Racial justice is just not about police brutality. It is absolutely about economic justice,” Coleman said.

He believes the lack of access to capital is one of the biggest problems facing Black-owned businesses.

“Prior to COVID-19, we were dealing with lack of capital, lack of jobs, lack of ownership in the Black community, and we are now dealing with it at an exacerbated level,” Coleman said.

Coleman and several newly elected officials recently came together to talk about creating opportunities and jobs for Colorado’s African American community. The NAACP held a virtual meeting to lay out the plans for the months ahead.

According to Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, the unemployment rate statewide was 6.4 percent in August. The City and County of Denver’s unemployment rate was 7.9 percent.

State Rep. Leslie Herod was appointed to the state’s joint budget committee on Nov. 10 and she asked Gov. Jared Polis one pressing question about the budget.

“How will this stimulus reach Black-owned and minority-owned businesses and what are we going to do with commercial lease space? Because that is something that is very important and something that I continue to hear from this community,” Herod said.

Herod believes that when the budget represents people of color, it helps to create lasting change.

“Our state budget is a moral document. It’s a moral document. It translates what we are doing as legislators and the actions of the communities to real tangible dollars and goods that are in our communities. And it’s imperative that we have representation,” Herod said.

Justin Adams