SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP / CBS13) – Eleven U.S. mayors, including Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, have pledged reparations for slavery to a small group of black residents in their towns, saying their goal is to set an example for the federal government on how a national program might work.
The mayors had no details on how much it would cost, who would pay for it or how people would be chosen. All of these details would be worked out with the help of local commissions made up of representatives of black-led organizations set up to advise the mayor of each city. But mayors say they pledge to pay for repairs instead of just talking about it.
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“Black Americans don’t need another study that’s on a shelf,” said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, the city’s first black female mayor and member of the group. “We need decisive action to close the racial wealth gap that holds back communities across our country.”
The effort comes as Juneteenth, which marks the end of slavery in the United States, has become a federal holiday. President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a bill that was passed by Congress to reserve June 19, or June 19, as a public holiday.
Slavery officially ended in the United States in 1865 with the passage of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution. But its effects have persisted well beyond, contributing to disparities in wealth and health between white and black populations.
Since 1989, congressional lawmakers have introduced a bill that would form a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations in the United States. But it never happened. Last year, California became the first state to set up its own reparations commission. This group held its first meeting earlier this month.
Friday’s announcement marks the city’s biggest effort to pay for repairs to date, but it’s not the first. The San Francisco Supervisory Board voted in March to appoint a 15-member African-American reparations advisory committee. That same month, the Evanston, Illinois city council voted to pay eligible black households $ 400,000, as part of a pledge to spend $ 10 million over the next 10 years. Eligible households would get $ 25,000 to use for things like home repairs or a down payment on the property.
Last year, the city council of Asheville, North Carolina, voted to approve repairs in the form of investments in areas of disparity for black residents.
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This group of mayors, nicknamed Mayors organized for reparations and fairness (PLUS), is led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. The group’s mission statement reads, in part:
“Our coalition believes that cities can – and should – act as bold think tanks that can transform racial and economic justice on a larger scale, and show the country how to continue and improve initiatives that embrace a restorative approach to confront and dismantle structural and institutional racism.
“Let’s be clear: cities will never have the funds to pay for repairs themselves,” Garcetti said at a press conference Friday to announce the group. “When we have the city labs showing that there is much more to embrace than fear, we know we can inspire national action as well. “
This is similar to the goal of another group of mayors who have experimented with guaranteed income programs, where a small group of low income people receive cash payments each month with no restrictions on how they can pay them. spend. The first of these programs was set up in Stockton, Calif., By former Mayor Michael Tubbs, who is listed as a “Distinguished Member” of the repair group.
The other mayors are Jorge Elorza of Providence, Rhode Island; Steve Adler of Austin, Texas; Steve Schewel of Durham, NC: Esther Manheimer of Asheville, NC: Quinton Lucas of Kansas City; Melvin Carter of St. Paul, Minnesota; and Keisha Currin from Tullahassee, Oklahoma.
Tullahassee – a small town of less than 200 people in northeast Oklahoma – is the oldest surviving all-black town in the states that were founded after the United States abolished slavery. Many of the first blacks to live there were enslaved by Native American tribes who allied with the Confederacy during the Civil War.
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“Slavery has played a huge role in my family and in my community,” Currin said. “This program will show our community that we care about us. “