The Asheville (NC) City Council has apologized for the city’s historic role in slavery and voted to provide reparations to them and their descendants.
According to the Citizen Times, the 7-0 vote came on July 14th.
“Hundreds of years of black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today,” said Councilman Keith Young, one of two African American members of the body and the measure’s chief proponent.
“It is simply not enough to remove statutes. Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature,” Young said.
The unanimously passed resolution does not mandate direct payments. Instead it will make investments in areas where Black residents face disparities.
“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 reads.
The resolution calls on the city to create the Community Reparations Commission, inviting community groups and other local governments to join. It will be the commission’s job to make concrete recommendations for programs and resources to be used.
Councilwoman Sheneika Smith, who is Black, said the council had gotten emails from those “asking, ‘Why should we pay for what happened during slavery?'”
“(Slavery) is this institution that serves as the starting point for the building of the strong economic floor for white America, while attempting to keep Blacks subordinate forever to its progress,” said Smith.
The council allowed an hour of public comment on the measure with the majority of the comments in support of the measure.