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Muhammad Ali Center to Host Forum Addressing Racial Disproportionality and Disparities for Children of Color in Child Serving Systems

Forum Sponsored by the Race Community and Child Welfare Initiative

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (November 11, 2016) — A Community Forum and panel discussion sponsored by the Race Community and Child Welfare Initiative and several public agencies will be held at the Muhammad Ali Center on November 17thfrom 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. The public forum is in conjunction with the Ali Center’s current temporary exhibit RACE: Are We So Different?, on display through January 2, 2017. RACE helps visitors understand what race is and what it is not. This interactive exhibit provides tools to recognize racial ideas and practices in contemporary American life. The exhibit invites visitors to discover the many reasons we should celebrate our differences and explore our shared histories.

The mission of the Race Community and Child Welfare Initiative is to amplify the evidence of racial injustice to engage the community in equitable policies, practices and programs for children and families.

Nationally, children of color are over-represented in child serving agencies such as education, child welfare, and juvenile justice in comparison to their percentage of the population. In Jefferson County racial disproportionality and disparate outcomes for children of color are seen across all public systems. Disparate outcomes include children of color being removed from their homes and entering out of home care at a rate of 1 to ½ times that of white children. Data shows that children of color are less likely to achieve permanency when exiting out of home care. Additionally, children of color are more likely to be suspended from school and less likely to graduate from high school. Children of color are more likely to be committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice for offenses and more likely to be referred to criminal court as a youthful offender.

Representatives from child serving agencies, including Commissioner Adria Johnson, Department for Community Based Services and Dr. Donna Hargen, Jefferson County Public Schools will present data from their agencies and discuss efforts to address disproportionality in their systems. Youth and community panelists will react to the presentation and discuss opportunities for community involvement. A call to action will be issued for community participation and cross system collaboration to address the issue of equity in services and opportunities for all children.

“Presentation of data and efforts by the institutions represented is not in an attempt to maintain the status quo, justify current outcomes, or defend the institution itself,” said Rashaad Abdur- Rahman, Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods. “Rather, it is an honest and transparent dialogue with the community regarding outcomes that are disparately impacting families of color across systems and structures. This does not absolve institutions of responsibility but it illustrates that this is a problem beyond any one organization. Presentations intend to make clear what challenges remain, but more importantly, to illustrate how community members can participate in rectifying these outcomes. Each institution must be accountable, and each institution needs help to realistically change outcomes.”

Other sponsoring partners include, Administrative Office of the Courts, Department for Juvenile Justice, Department for Community Based Services, Center for Health Equity, Department for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods, University of Louisville, and Spalding University.

The forum is free and the public is encouraged to attend. RACE will be available to tour before the forum.


The Muhammad Ali Center, a 501(c)3 corporation, was co-founded by Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. The international cultural center promotes the six core principles of Muhammad Ali (Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect, and Spirituality) in ways that inspire personal and global greatness and provides programming and events around the focus areas of education, gender equity, and global citizenship. Its newest initiative, Generation Ali, fosters a new generation of leaders to contribute positively to their communities and to change the world for the better. The Center’s headquarters also contains an award-winning museum experience. For more information, please visit