Citing the “hundreds of years of black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today” a city council in North Carolina on Wednesday unanimously approved a historic measure allowing reparations for black residents over the state’s ties to slavery.
Keith Young, an Asheville councilman who is black, reportedly spearheaded the resolution. He told ABC News that he wants to “embed systemic solutions” that will begin a process that is “perpetual.”
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“There is no completion box to check off,” he said. He continued, “This work does not end and will be adaptive, no matter what governing body holds office or who runs our city.”
The Asheville Citizen-Times, citing the resolution, reported that direct payments to black residents is not mandated, but additional funding would be earmarked to help the minority community with homeownership and “increasing minority business ownership and career opportunities.”
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, which represents Asheville, is “not clearly behind” the move, the paper reported. Brownie Newman, the board chairman who is white, said last week that “the legacy of discrimination and racism in the community has created the social disparities that exist today.” The paper pointed out that the board has seven members, six of whom are white. The resolution was signed by the city’s mayor.
The move comes after weeks of protests across the U.S. calling for social changes in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody in May. The reparation debate has been a reoccurring topic in the country, but recent polls show that it is widely unpopular. An AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll back in 2019 showed that only 29 percent of Americans agree with financial reparations for slavery. About 74 percent of black Americans are in favor, the study said.
Robert Johnson, the founder of BET and first black billionaire, in June called for a $14 trillion wealth transfer to help reduce racial inequality.
The first slaves arrived in the country in 1619 and slavery officially ended in 1865.
“(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 in the process,” Sheneika Smith, a councilwoman, told the paper.