The issue:

Inequality leads to instability.

What we think:

Equal treatment is necessary for a strong, stable business environment.

Whatever the beliefs regarding the platform for protest, the trend involving National Football League players taking a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner has brought new attention and conversation regarding racial inequality in our country.

A growing number believe that segments of the population aren’t being treated fairly or appropriately under the nation’s laws, and just as inequality can leave a stain on issues of social justice, so can it tarnish business communities and future economic prosperity.

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Compare, for instance, the economic vitality of places where inequality is baked into the  community’s social fabric, to those that strive for equal access to education and jobs. Compare places that treat some segments of the population more harshly when it comes to issues of justice to those where people aren’t afraid of law enforcement or their legal system.

In fact, some historians claim that civil rights law combined with economic prosperity is the path to change and equality in the region. They go hand-in-hand; one can’t happen without the other.

Communities thrive when everyone has equal access and each person believes they are being treated fairly and justly.  Businesses thrive when they have access to a well-trained, well-educated workforce.

In Colorado Springs, the economy is booming — and we’re earning national attention for our economic prosperity. We’ve been named the No. 1 mid-sized American city for human capital and lifestyle, the No. 2 most desirable place to live; we’re in the top 10 hottest real estate markets and the top 10 best big cities for active families.

We’ve always been a city where everyone is welcome. In the days before integration, Fannie Mae Duncan opened a business that declared, boldly, that “Everyone is welcome!”

An entrepreneur, an activist and a philanthropist, Duncan is credited for peacefully integrating Colorado Springs. She opened the Cotton Club to everyone, because failing to do so would violate civil rights, she said. When she couldn’t find housing for some of her celebrity performers at the club, she bought a mansion for them to stay in while they were in Colorado Springs. One of those guests, civil rights activist Medgar Evers, praised Duncan for her brave role in Colorado Springs.

Injustice doesn’t breed a confident marketplace, nor does it create the workforce businesses need to survive and succeed in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

As we create the kind of 21st century city that we all want to live, work and play in, let’s keep Fannie Mae Duncan’s vision for the city in mind. We want to improve our workforce, grow local companies and attract companies from other cities. We can only do that if we remember that everyone deserves respect, equal treatment under the law and equal opportunities.  n CSBJ