This City Will Offer Reparations for Its Role in Slavery

Asheville, NC, makes historic move
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2020 1:30 AM CDT
This City Will Offer Reparations for Its Role in Slavery
In this June 5, 2020 photo provided by the Mountain Area Health Education Center, physicians, residents and staff from the facility in Asheville, N.C., take a knee to show support for renewed calls for racial justice after the police killing of George Floyd.   (Brenda Benik/MAHEC via AP)

In a move USA Today calls "extraordinary" and CNN refers to as "historic," the city of Asheville, North Carolina, on Tuesday voted to approve reparations for Black residents. The seven-member City Council unanimously voted for the move, with Keith Young, one of the two Black members of the council, saying, "It is simply not enough to remove statues. Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature." The reparations come alongside a formal apology for the state's role in slavery, discrimination, and other racist policies affecting Black people. "(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," says Sheneika Smith, the other Black council member.

The resolution calls for "forming policy and programs that will establish the creation of generational wealth," which has been denied to many Black families due to slavery and discrimination. Rather than making payments directly to Black residents, who comprise 12% of the city's population (83% is white), the reparations will be used to make investments in areas where Black people face disparities. Per the resolution, priorities may include "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 calls for the state legislature and the federal government to make similar moves. (More reparations stories.)

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