44th Annual Conference – Travel Advisory Statement

Kansas City, Missouri
28 February - 4 March 2018

From the President: A Note on SAM in KC

In August 2017 the NAACP issued its first ever travel advisory for a single state, Missouri, citing the fact that "African Americans in Missouri are 75 percent more likely to be stopped and searched by law enforcement officers than Caucasians" (http://bit.ly/2vtF77G). Their concern was amplified by the passage of Senate Bill 43, which makes it harder to prove discrimination in workplaces, housing, or public accommodation, and harder to win such lawsuits.

In an interview on NPR, Nimrod Chapel, Jr., president of the Missouri chapter of the NAACP, compared the advisory to a blinking traffic light that cautioned African Americans, "travel at your own risk."

Kansas City Mayor Sly James issued a response to this advisory saying that despite the historic inequities that all cities and states have historically struggled to overcome, Kansas City is making a conscious effort to ensure that the city's community is anchored in equality and justice. In 2018 into 2019 the city is hosting more than 200 conventions, attracting 430,000 people. Mayor James asserted, "it is necessary to make sure that all persons, every citizen in any state knows that they are valued, safe, and welcomed" (http://bit.ly/2m9B9Ld).

Mun Y. Choi, President of the University of Missouri System, issued a statement saying that many initiatives are currently underway to promote a positive environment on its campuses, inviting everyone to visit and experience for themselves the "vibrant and inclusive community of learning, research and engagement that is at the heart and soul" of the University (http://bit.ly/2CTQ07E).

As a community SAM wants its conferences to be safe and welcoming spaces for everyone. If safety concerns about driving in Missouri are preventing you from joining SAM in Kansas City for the conference, please contact me directly at graham.sandraj@gmail.com. SAM would like to support your attendance to the degree that we are able.

I encourage everyone to join in Mayor James's and President Choi's pledge to make all persons welcome. I hope to see you in KC.

Sandra Graham, President
On behalf of the Board, Local Arrangements Committee, and Committee on Diversity and Inclusion

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