Boston City Council Votes to Form Task Force Studying Reparations for Black Community

The council voted unanimously to establish a commission that will study reparations for the city's Black community. Mayor Michelle Wu will review the measure.

Passersby walk through Boston City Hall

Image via Getty/Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

Passersby walk through Boston City Hall

Boston is one step closer to potentially providing reparations for its Black community.

According to the Associated Press, the Boston City Council voted unanimously to establish a small commission that will study the generational trauma caused by U.S. slavery and its role in the current racial wealth gap. The task force will also explore possible compensation for the systemic inequality within Boston, which has been well documented in housing, education, and healthcare sectors.

“This ordinance is only the start of a long awaited yet necessary conversation,” City Councilor Julia Mejia said. “The City of Boston, like many areas around the United States, has profited from the labor of enslaved African Americans and has further disadvantaged them by barring them from participating in the same economic mobility opportunities as their white counterparts.”

The measure, which is now headed to Boston Mayor Michelle Wu for review, originally proposed a 15-member task force called the “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans.” The council voted to cut the commission down to five members who “have a connection to and understanding of the descendants of formerly enslaved Black people in the United States.” 

Earlier this year, the city council passed a resolution that acknowledged, condemned, and apologized for Boston’s role in U.S. slavery. The resolution outlined a number of pledges, including the removal of prominent anti-Black symbols in city and a commitment to education residents about Boston’s involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

“When harm is done, the first step is to acknowledge the harm and apologize for it,” said Councilor Fernandes Anderson, who offered the resolution. “The fact that this hasn’t been done yet at the municipal level is stunning to me.”

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