Boston City Council Follows Other Communities In Vote To Open Reparations Study

The city has apologized for its role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and ongoing legacy generations later.

The Boston City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday (Dec. 14) to created a task force to explore reparations for Black residents, which would compensate them for the city’s role in slavery and its generational impact of racial discrimination.

Task force members will research racial disparities and historic harms to Black Bostonians, hold public forums to hear testimony, and make recommendations on what reparations would look like, The Associated Press reports.

They will also examine other reparation models. Boston is the latest municipality to explore reparations–a list that includes St. Louis and Providence, R.I. Evanston, Ill., a Chicago suburb, in 2021 became the first city to make reparations available to Black residents. The tend includes at least 11 mayors who have vowed to seek reparations for their Black residents.

St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones Signs Executive Order To Appoint Reparations Commission

“The time is right for us to begin a process of exploring the mechanisms by which a robust policy of reparations can manifest for Boston’s Black community,” Councilwoman Tania Fernandes Anderson said, according to the AP.

“After centuries of entrenched and embedded structures of institutional racism, as emblematized by chattel slavery, legalized segregation, redlining, lynching, racist realty practices, and inequities in education, health care, and policing, amongst other categories, it is clear that a debt is owed to the people who have faced these matters,” she continued.

One of the challenges for the five-member task force will be recommending who is entitled to reparations.

WBGH reports that the city’s Black community is divided. Some argue that only Black descendants of U.S. slaves should receive the benefits. Others prefer a more inclusive approach that would add immigrants and descendants of immigrants.

California’s reparations task force cleared that troublesome hurdle in March. It voted 5-4 to limit compensation for slavery to the descendants of free and enslaved Black people living in the United States in the 19th century. That excludes Black immigrants and Black Californians with an immigrant lineage from the Caribbean or Africa.

New York Lawmakers To Renew Reparations Efforts For State Residents Who Descended From Slaves

In June, the city council apologized for Boston’s role in slavery, which Massachusetts abolished  in 1783. Councilors unanimously adopted a resolution that not only acknowledged and condemned its participation in the trans-Atlantic trade in humans but also the ongoing negative legacy on the lives of Black Bostonians.

“The legacy of slavery is connected to present-day trauma and economic, political, social and racial disparities in Boston and across the United States,” the resolution stated.

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