In a historic decision, the Asheville, North Carolina, City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to formally apologize and provide reparations to black residents.
In the 7-0 vote, the council officially apologized for slavery, discrimination and denial of basic liberties to black residents. Although the decision did not mandate direct payments to black residents, it instead allocated city funds to be invested in areas with significant racial disparities. Additionally, the city will set up a Community Reparations Commission, which will invite community groups and other local governments to participate.
“The resulting budgetary and programmatic priorities may include but not be limited to increasing minority home ownership and access to other affordable housing, increasing minority business ownership and career opportunities, strategies to grow equity and generational wealth, closing the gaps in health care, education, employment and pay, neighborhood safety and fairness within criminal justice,” the resolution said.
“Hundreds of years of black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today,” Councilman Keith Young, one of two black members of the council, said as the decision was made, the Asheville Citizen Times reported.
“We are seeking to embed systemic solutions into a systemic problem. This process begins and is perpetual, repeating this process over and over again. There is no completion box to check off,” he said “As far as the timeline goes, we will have some steps to report on within six months and every six months after that. This work does not end and will be adaptive, no matter what governing body holds office or who runs our city.”
Mayor Esther Manheimer told Newsweek that it’s clear to her “that federal reparations legislation would be the most impactful.” She added that “this is a conversation that is happening among diverse groups of people in cities and towns throughout the United States, and through our resolution the city of Asheville has joined in this conversation.”
Newsweek reached out to all the members of the Asheville City Council for further comment, but only Young responded by the time of publication.
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