The City Of Boston Appoints Members To Its New Reparations Task Force

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Boston Mayor Michelle Wu has announced the appointment of 10 members to the city’s newly formed Reparations Task Force, which was implemented to study the lasting impact of slavery in Boston.

“For 400 years, the brutal practice of enslavement and recent policies like redlining, the busing crisis and exclusion from city contracting have denied Black Americans pathways to build generational wealth, secure stable housing and live freely,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said.

“Our administration remains committed to tackling long-standing racial inequities and this task force is the next step in our commitment as a city to advance racial justice and build a Boston for everyone,” Wu added.

The City of Boston formally apologized for its role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade in June 2022. The City Council then unanimously voted to establish a commission and make recommendations on reparations.

Attorney Joseph Feaster, Jr., the former president of the Boston chapter of the NAACP, will chair the task force.

“We are looking forward to determining recommendations for how we reckon with Boston’s past while charting a path forward for Black people whose ancestors labored without compensation and who were promised the 40 acres and a mule they never received,” Feaster said in a statement announcing the task force. 

According to a 2015 study, the median net worth of Black households in Boston was just $8, compared to nearly $250,000 for white households, due to discriminatory city policies and practices that erected barriers to wealth-building opportunities for nonwhite communities, such as homeownership.

The task force comprises people from all walks of life, including community activists, artists, scholars and students. Over the next 18 months, members will meet and work on providing recommendations for reparative solutions to Mayor Wu for the descendants of enslaved persons. 

In recent years, cities, towns and municipalities across America have grappled with how to right these historical wrongs. Various forms of reparations have been proposed for the enslavement of African people in America, such as direct cash payments, homeownership assistance and repatriation of historical artifacts.

Local reparations advocates point to Boston’s history as a bustling port city that profited greatly from enslaved people’s labor.

“It’s only right that our government plays a role in reversing the harm that our government enabled,” said Boston councilman Ricardo Arroyo.

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