TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Twenty-two percent of Vigo County kids are living in poverty according to new research. A closer look shows Black and Hispanic children are more likely to be poor than white children.
People gathered Monday night to talk about several problems impacting the Black community including economic disparities. The public forum was entitled "Wake Up" and speakers addressed issues like criminal justice reform and political engagement.
They say racial and economic inequalities are evident and impacting adults and kids.
Research from the 2018 Kids Count Data Book, released by the Indiana Youth Institute, shows Black children are three times more likely to live in poverty compared to their white peers. Overall, the Hoosier state ranks 31st in the nation for children living in poverty.
Pastor Dwayne Malone says it's part of a larger problem. He says there is a lack of opportunity.
"Sony closing, that eliminates a lot of our jobs and so hopefully if we are able to invest in our community, we can create those jobs."
Another community leader says more must be done to also protect financial support programs.
Pastor Terry Clark says, "Feeding one's family is probably the hallmark of keeping families stable and keeping families together so that's why these safety nets that are in place are really required."
People at the forum say the Black community is under-represented in many areas and that will not change until individuals start getting involved.
TJ Hellman says, "Come into that first community meeting or having that first discussion with your neighbor or having that first letter you write, each one of those things builds on each other and it becomes a thing where you start to gain power as a community and start to believe in ourselves as a community to make changes that we need to make."
Public forums like this will be held every other month. The next event is April 19th at the Vigo Public Library at 6pm. Vigo County Schools, taxes and elections will be discussed.
Monday night's event included a voter registration drive.