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Kansas City Mayor one of 11 to pay reparations to Black residents

(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)(Jeff Roberson | AP)
Updated: Jun. 19, 2021 at 11:56 AM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WIBW) - Kansas City is one of 11 cities that intend to pay reparations for slavery to Black residents.

KCTV5 reports that Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is among 11 U.S. mayors to sign a pledge to pay reparations for slavery to Black residents in their cities.

According to KCTV5, the commitment was announced on Friday by the Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity, a group including all 11 mayors that signed the pledge.

To start the process, a small group of Black residents in each city will be chosen to set an example for a larger program that could possibly spread nationally to include the federal government, according to the Associated Press.

KCTV5 said the mayors do not have details regarding the cost of the projects, who would pay for it or how residents would be chosen. All of those details will have to be worked out jointly with local commissions made up of representatives from Black-led organizations meant to advise the mayor of each city. However, the mayors say they are committed to paying reparations and not just talking about them.

When the mayors work out best practices for the measure, Lucas plans to create a group of community members to make the idea a reality said his office. The measure would not need the approval of a council, as it said the mayor has the ability to appoint local committees and commissions.

“Black Americans don’t need another study that sits on a shelf,” said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, the city’s first Black female mayor and a member of the group. “We need decisive action to address the racial wealth gap holding communities back across our country.”

The announcement comes as Juneteenth becomes a federal holiday. President Joe Biden signed a bill into law on Thursday that was passed by Congress to include Juneteenth, June 19, the day that marks the end of slavery in the U.S., as a holiday.

According to KCTV5, since 1989, Congress has introduced bills to form a commission to study and develop reparation proposals throughout the nation. However, the bills never passed. In 2020, California became the first state to set up a reparations committee and held its first meeting earlier this month.

KCTV5 said the announcement marks the largest city-led effort to pay reparations to date, but it is not the first. It said the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted in March to appoint a 15-member African American Reparations Advisory Committee. It said in the same month, the City Council of Evanston, Ill., voted to pay $400,000 to eligible Black households as part of a pledge to spend $10 million over the next decade. It said households that qualify would get $25,000 to use for home repairs or putting a down payment on a property.

The group of mayors, called Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity or MORE, is led by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Denver Mayr Michael Hancock. The group’s goal is for the reparations programs to “serve as high-profile demonstrations for how the country can more quickly move from conversation to action on reparations for Black Americans,” said the group’s website.

“Let me be clear: Cities will never have the funds to pay for reparations on our own,” Garcetti said during a news conference on Friday to announce the group. “When we have the laboratories of cities show that there is much more to embrace than to fear, we know that we can inspire national action as well.”

According to KCTV5, this is similar to the goal of another group of mayors that have experimented with guaranteed income programs, in which a small group of low-income residents receive cash payments monthly with no restrictions on the way it is spent. It said the first program was set up in Stockton, Calif., by former mayor Michael Tubbs, listed as an “emeritus member” of the reparations group.

Other mayors in MORE include Jorge Elorza of Providence, R.I., Steve Adler of Austin, Tex., Steve Schewel of Durham, N.C., Esther Manheimer of Asheville, N.C., Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, Calif., Melvin Carter of St. Paul, Minn., and Keisha Currin of Tullahassee, Okla.

KCTV5 said Tullahassee is a small town of fewer than 200 residents in northeast Oklahoma and is the oldest of the surviving all-Black towns in the states that were founded after the nation abolished slavery. It said many of the first Black people to live there had been slaves in Native American tribes that had allied themselves with the Confederacy during the Civil War.

“Slavery has played a huge part in my family and in my community,” Currin said. “This program is going to show our community that we care.”

Information and text from the Associated Press was used in this story.

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