In cities around the country, authorities are seeking to address the nation’s painful history of racism and injustice through a variety of measures.
Providence, Rhode Island, Mayor Jorge Elorza signed an executive order purposed with pursuing a “truth-telling and reparations process.”
As a part of the process, city officials will review state and local laws, and engage with the public in an open conversation about the state’s role in historic injustices. Lastly, officials will determine what form reparations should take.
“What we’re doing here together is truly something historic,” Elorza said. “But most importantly, it comes directly from the voice of our Black community.”
On July 14, the city council in Asheville, North Carolina, formally apologized for the city’s role in America’s legacy of slavery and discrimination, and also decided to provide economic benefits to the descendants of slaves.
Councilman Keith Young, one of two Black council members that voted unanimously to pay reparations, spoke about how slavery shaped today’s world, saying, “Hundreds of years of Black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today.”
He added “it is simply not enough to remove statutes,” and pointed out that Black people struggle against systematic issues.
While the descendants of slaves likely won’t receive direct payments, the city has pledged to make investments in Black communities. Some of those investments outlined in a resolution by the council include “increasing minority homeownership,” “increasing minority business ownership and career opportunities,” and “strategies to grow equity and generational wealth.”
In June, the California Assembly passed a reparations bill that will create a task force concerned with deciding who would receive reparations and how they would be allocated. It still has to pass in the state Senate and be signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to become law.
Although conversations about reparations are not new, calls for recompense have mounted following the deaths of unarmed Black people killed by police, as individuals call on the nation to reconcile its history of injustice against black people.