After a brief delay, Boston’s city council approved a resolution apologizing for the role the capital city played in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, according to Boston.com. You’re probably thinking the same thing I am. Boston? Although the resolution is non-binding, it was unanimously voted for. The pledge from the city commits to remove “prominent anti-Black symbols” and educate residents on the Boston slave trade.
The council is currently thinking of creating future resolutions to which they would form a commission to look into reparations and other ways to atone for Boston’s role in racial inequality. Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson proposed the resolution and felt this was a meaningful first step. Anderson also notes that the forward-thinking part of the resolution wants to highlight “present-day trauma and economic, political, social and racial disparities” such as poorer housing, public education options, and income inequality.
Anderson’s resolution states slavery was first legalized in Massachusetts in 1641 and that the developing Boston economy depended on slaves who “served as butlers, maids, courtiers, beer makers, drivers, cooks and producers of clothing.”
“To those who ask, why now, I simply say that now is the time,” she said in a statement. “Great personal and institutional wealth in Boston was built on the backs of enslaved Africans, who reaped none of the economic benefits from their labor.”
As noted by Boston.com, the resolution falls short of funding specific policies or programs to atone for slavery’s harms, such as paying reparations. Mayor Michelle Wu says that Boston has a responsibility to condemn and speak the truth about the city’s role concerning the last longing difficulties inflicted by its history.
“Boston is revered for our role in this country’s founding, but we must acknowledge and address the dark pieces of that history that too often go untold,” she said in a statement. “We must learn from our past, right wrongs, and build an equitable Boston that works for everyone.”