LEXINGTON, Ky.—The death of Breonna Taylor still serves as a catalyst for finding solutions to end racial injustice in Kentucky cities. In Lexington, there’s a permanent commission that pledges to work together to ensure everyone is welcome and succeeds. 

What You Need To Know

  • Mayor Linda Gorton introduced a permanent Racial Justice commission on February 17th, 2022

  • The commission selected Sam Meaux as first chair and Charlotte Turley as vice chair

  • Thirteen additional members will be added to the commission pending approval from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council including Lexington-Fayette NAACP president Whit Whitaker


On March 13, 2020, 26-year-old Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by Louisville Metro Police Department officers as they were serving a no knock warrant at her apartment. They charged no one with her death, which led to protests in Kentucky and across the country. Two years later, people are still fighting for racial equity.

Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton unveiled the city’s first racial injustice commission. It will be a permanent attempt at making progress. The Lexington-Fayette NAACP president Whit Whitaker is among the leaders who will serve on the commission. 

Lexington-Fayette NAACP President, Racial Justice commission pending member Whit Whitaker answers questions about racial equity in Lexington. (Spectrum News 1/Diamond Palmer)

Besides Whitaker, Christian Adair, Emily Duncan, Timothy Johnson, Jessica Sass, Yajaira West, Serenity Wright, Juan Castro, Marshall Fields, Bob McLaughlin, Abdul Muhammad, Miranda Scully, Kennedy Wells will serve on the commission pending approval from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council.

“Well, I hope this commission will engage with all the other organizations in the community who are trying to create systems of equity,” said Whitaker.

Mayor Gorton says new permanent commissions are rare in the city’s history but this one is needed. 

Cars drive past the Lexington Fayette Government Center where the Racial Justice commission announcement was made. (Spectrum News 1/Diamond Palmer)

“The message the establishment of this commission sends is very simple. We know we still have work to do to achieve racial justice and equality in our community and we are in this for the long haul,” said Mayor Gorton.

Gorton appointed Sam Meaux and Charlotte Turley as the commission’s first and vice chair.

Recent progress on the recommendations includes: 

  • Appointing permanent Racial Injustice and Equality Commission.
  • 2 civilians added to the Police Disciplinary Review Board and will begin accepting nominations for volunteers. 
  • Addressing health equity by finding innovative solutions to improve healthy food access. 
  • Expanded programming at the Charles Young Center to include trauma informed group therapy for youth whose lives have been touched by violence.
  • Working with community organizations, courts, and other resource service agencies to remove barriers to integration in workforce, education, housing and health equity by offering an expungement clinic. 
  • Body cameras and enhanced software for all police officers. 
  • Ongoing minority business disparity study to be completed by May 2022.

Whitaker spoke out at the commission announcement that the Police Disciplinary Review Board being open to civilians should’ve happened a long time ago.

“The issue for me is you have police officers policing communities, but those same community members aren’t allowed to police or review the law enforcement officers,” said Whitaker. 

Whitaker knows he can aid the Racial Justice commission and influence more Black youth and adult voices to be heard about their concerns. Overall, he’s hopeful about the future of the city.

“As the chair-person for the committee said, you know there are a lot of fishers in the foundation that needed to be fixed, so this is a big step toward fixing those fishers. It’s a big step to addressing some of the issues the city has experienced so that we can become more progressive and move forward,” said Whitaker.

Tiffany Brown, the city’s Equity and Implementation Officer, will also work with the new commission.