The newly formed Greenville Racial Equity and Economic Mobility Commission has launched and met to study and discuss racial inequities in Greenville County’s Black community as well as explore partnerships that may create meaningful solutions.
The REEM Commission is a joint effort by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Greenville County and Urban League of the Upstate. It grew from ongoing community conversations to identify and address systemic racial barriers in Greenville County.
“When the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Greenville County and the Urban League of the Upstate issued a joint statement in mid-June condemning racism in light of the murder of George Floyd, we suggested the formation of this commission to examine racial inequities in Greenville County and improve the odds of economic mobility for African Americans in our community,” said Judge Merl F. Code, REEM Commission co-chair.
The members of the REEM Commission include:
- Merl F. Code, Ogletree Deakins
- David Lominack, TD Bank
- Meghan Barp, United Way of Greenville County
- Peggy Baxter, community advocate
- Karen Baynes-Dunning, community advocate
- Kennedy Brown, youth advocate
- Matt Caldwell, Bon Secours St. Francis Health System
- Elizabeth Davis, Furman University
- Pastor Sean Dogan, Long Branch Baptist Church
- Jessica Donan, EY
- Joe Erwin, Endeavor
- Traci Fant, Freedom Fighter’s Upstate Foundation
- Reverend J. M. Flemming, NAACP
- Rich Hagins, US&S
- Robert Hughes, Hughes Development
- Butch Kirven, Greenville County Council
- Sheriff Hobart Lewis, Greenville County Sheriff’s Department
- Stacey Mills, USC Upstate
- Bob Morris, Community Foundation of Greenville
- T. Peden, Minority Economic Development Institute
- Carlos Phillips, Greenville Chamber of Commerce
- Jason Richards, NAI Earle Furman
- Burke Royster, Greenville County Schools
- Liz Seman, Furman University, Greenville County Council
- Minor Shaw, Micco LLC
- Katy Smith, Greenville Partnership for Philanthropy
- Deputy Chief Howie Thompson, Greenville Police Department
- Gage Weekes, Hollingsworth Funds
- Mayor Knox White, city of Greenville
- Nika White, Nika White Consulting
- Will Whitley, Michelin North America
- Baxter Wynn, community advocate
During its first meeting, the group agreed to ground its ongoing work in anti-racist transformation; gather ideas to improve economic mobility and equity strategies in Greenville County; mobilize around identified top priorities; and establish follow-through and accountability metrics for focus areas.
The meeting also discussed research presented in United Way’s recent Racial and Economic Mobility Index study. The study identified areas of disparity in the Black community, including educational attainment and workforce development; health and wellness; income, wealth and economic mobility; senior population, specifically focusing on aging and poverty; justice system and policing; and communitywide racial equity education.
“This work is necessary, and the time is now to work together as a community to address and start to heal the systemic racial inequities and social injustice embedded in our society,” David Lominack, South Carolina market president of TD Bank and REEM Commission co-chair, said. “The REEM Commission commits to enact meaningful change in Greenville, change that comes by studying and reflecting on our past, and carving a more inclusive, equitable way forward.”
The REEM Commission currently does not have a set schedule for its next meeting, but should continue to meet over the next six months, said United Way of Greenville County president and CEO Meghan Barp.