Phew, 2020 sure is something different.
In a unanimous decision, Asheville, N.C.’s City Council has voted to give reparations to its Black residents.
The historic 7-0 vote was reached on Tuesday night, reports the Citizen Times, a USA Today affiliate. The measure comes with a public apology for the city’s participation in enslaving Africans and their descendants, as well as its role in enforcing segregation and urban renewal “that destroyed multiple successful Black communities,” according to the resolution.
It will also provide reparations, not in the form of a direct payment, but in making investments in Black communities where residents face a number of structural barriers to healthcare, education, safety and prosperity.
“Hundreds of years of Black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today,” said Councilman Keith Young, the primary advocate for the measure and one of two Black people on the City Council. “It is simply not enough to remove statues. Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature.”
In an earlier council meeting, Young explained why he thought the city of Asheville, known for being a small, liberal and arts-focused community, should take a holistic approach to rebuilding wealth in Black communities.
“I don’t want to be made whole through one singular action or shuffling of money that another elected body can change at a drop of a dime,” he said. “I want generations to be made whole through systemic action.”
Asheville is home to the University of North Carolina Asheville. About 83 percent of its residents are white, while Black residents comprise slightly less than 12 percent of its population.
The resolution provides broad parameters for what the city can invest in.
“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,” it reads.
First, the city will form a Community Reparations Commission, which will include participation from community groups and other local governments. The commission will recommend programs and resources the city should invest in to uplift its Black communities and make them safer and wealthier.
The resolution’s supporters also want Buncombe County, which governs Asheville and its surrounding communities, to back the measure. As of last week, the Democrat-majority County Board of Commissioners said it needed more time to decide where it fell on the matter.