In March, Albuquerque’s Mayor R.J. Berry attended SXSW to speak on racial equity and the power of city government alongside Nadia Owusu of Living Cities.
This month, Mayor Berry joined city leaders, innovators and celebrities from across the country – and from across New Mexico – to discuss innovation, policy and racial equity at Austin’s SxSW festival. Though the festival is widely known as a place to explore new music, technology and film, this year the festival welcomed at least 20 mayors from across the country to meet and develop partnerships with thought leaders and the private sector.
During the event, Mayor Berry had an opportunity to take part in multiple workshops and joined a panel on racial equity and the power of city government that asked the question, “What if all cities worked in new ways to understand how operations affect people of color and reproduce inequities, and began to address them in transformative ways?”
The panel, which included Glenn Harris of the Center for Social Inclusion and Nadia Owusu of Living Cities, gave Albuquerque the opportunity to share progress and insights on what it takes to create racial equity on a city-wide level. Berry highlighted a racial equity training series being offered to City employees, the relationships that have been built with community organizations that are changing policy to increase opportunities for minority business owners and how Albuquerque is working to cultivate new minority entrepreneurs.
“How do we get our community as a whole to get people to realize there are things that we can do to give people opportunities?” said Mayor Berry to Governing Magazine shortly after the panel. “Race shouldn’t be the reason you can’t get something done, yet too many times it is.”
Albuquerque Business First reported that a number of other homegrown organizations spoke on panels, including art accelerator Creative Startups, Los Alamos tech startup Descartes Labs and Sandia National Laboratories. Other New Mexicans and leaders in Albuquerque attended as well, including Director of Economic Development Gary Oppedahl, Entrepreneur Development Manager Eric Renz-Whitmore and CEO and President of the New Mexico Technology Council Nyika Allen.