District 4 Guilford County Commissioner Mary Beth Murphy is joining a select group of elected county officials from around the country who’ll be working together to reduce racism in government and enhance racial equity. The effort is coming out of the National Association of Counties (NACo) – an organization that unites and supports county governments across the US and attempts to advance the common interests of counties and the people who live in them.
Murphy, a Democratic commissioner who was elected to the board’s District 4 seat two years ago, will represent Guilford County and the state of North Carolina on the national board, which is charged with the effort of exploring disparities in local criminal legal systems as well as in government practices, funding and policies – in order to find new ways to promote racial equity.
Murphy is one of only 15 elected county leaders in the country who will be serving on the “CORE Justice Network. CORE stands for “County Officials advancing Racial Equity.”
Financial support for the CORE Justice Network comes from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
As participants of the Justice Network, Murphy and the other 14 leaders will explore model practices and policies for reducing racism, consult with experts on best practices and have access to technical assistance in order to develop and implement new programs.
The effort is meant to improve outcomes for all community members, enhance public safety and ensure that all residents have an opportunity to thrive.
Hopefully, Murphy’s service will bring some direct benefits to Guilford County where racial justice and equity are pervasive goals that show up everywhere from county construction contracts to county hiring practices to the criminal justice system.
According to NACo officials, this is a great opportunity for county leaders to learn about and put in place policies, programs and practices and resources that make communities both safer and more equitable, and that also reduce the “collateral consequences” of the justice system, particularly for people of color.
Murphy said this week that she’s looking forward to the experience and she hopes it will help advance racial equity in local government.
She also said that racial justice and racial equity go beyond simple “anti-racism.”
“It is not just the absence of discrimination and inequities, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports to achieve and sustain racial equity through proactive and preventative measures,” the commissioner said in a prepared statement.