Colorado Black Caucus launches with reception tonight

Wilma Webb was one of the first African-American representatives in the Colorado legislature -- and she pushed through a measure making Martin Luther King Day a state holiday in 1984, two years before it was recognized nationally. In 1991, her husband, Wellington Webb, became Denver's first black mayor. But then the number of African-Americans in Colorado government began dwindling, and by the start of 2011 some were concerned their presence would fade away completely.

For example, the number of African-Americans representatives in the legislature dropped from four to one between 2006 and 2010, and Michael Hancock was the only black member of Denver City Council -- and rather than seeking that seat again, he was running for mayor.

That concern inspired state representative Angela Williams to found the Colorado Black Caucus, an organization that aims to increase African-American participation throughout all levels of government. The group will officially launch tonight with a reception celebrating the fourteen African-American elected officials currently in Colorado government.

Those officials, all members of the Colorado Black Caucus, range from Mayor Michael Hancock to Regional Transportation District board members, city council members, school board members, lawmakers in the General Assembly and University of Colorado regents.

"They gave birth to the Colorado Black Caucus to promote statewide collaboration to better serve the underserved," says April Washington, spokeswoman for the group.

The reception, which is expected to draw over 200 people -- including lobbyists, business center leaders, and other government representatives -- will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Denver Colorado Museum of Nature and Science. For more information, e-mail

More from our Politics archive: "Michael Hancock election night victory party gallery (PHOTOS)."

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