A group of U.S. mayors in 11 cities have made pledges to pay reparations to their Black residents, creating a guideline of sorts for the federal government to follow on how a similar program would work nationally.
According to the Associated Press, the mayors, who run cities as large as Los Angels and as small as Tullahassee, Okla., said they do not know how it would be paid for, what the cost would be, or how people would be chosen. Those specifics would be arrived at by local commissions that are made up of leaders from Black organizations. Although much needs to be figured out, the mayors say they want to make reparations payments happen.
“Black Americans don’t need another study that sits on a shelf,” said Tishaura Jones, mayor of St. Louis and a member of the group Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity (MORE). “We need decisive action to address the racial wealth gap holding communities back across our country.”
Cities like Evanston, Ill., and Asheville, N.C., have approved reparations for their Black residents, citing the effects of systemic racism on them over generations. California has created a task force to explore reparations and separately, so has San Francisco. Most recently, the city council in Detroit passed an initiative supporting a reparations task force.
Earlier in 2021, HR 40, a bill originally introduced in 1989 by the late Michigan Rep. John Conyers, was reintroduced by Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. It would create a commission to explore reparations for African Americans. It is currently in committee.
RELATED: House Moves Reparations Study Bill Forward After 30 Years Of Struggling To Be Heard
The MORE group of mayors is led by Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti and Denver mayor Michael Hancock. Their website explains they intend for their reparations programs to “serve as high-profile demonstrations for how the country can more quickly move from conversation to action on reparations for Black Americans.”
But the mayors are not under any illusion that money to pay reparations will suddenly appear. The intention is to spark the nationwide conversation and move the country toward taking the concept seriously.
“Let me be clear: Cities will never have the funds to pay for reparations on our own,” Garcetti said at a Friday news conference introducing MORE. “When we have the laboratories of cities show that there is much more to embrace than to fear, we know that we can inspire national action as well.”
Photo: Getty Images