Local Politics

Durham city leaders pass resolution for reparations

Posted October 7, 2020 8:43 p.m. EDT
Updated October 8, 2020 2:44 p.m. EDT

— Durham city leaders voted unanimously to pass a resolution supporting federal reparations earlier this week.

The new resolution is intended to affect a decades-long wealth gap that has impacted the Durham community for generations.

"Black Americans descendants of US slavery constitutes about 13 percent of the US population, but possess only about 2 percent of the nation’s wealth," said William Darity, Duke professor of Public Policy and African American Studies.

The resolution is part of a year-long discussion between the city and the racial equity task force.

While 2020 is an opportune time to make a reparations program happen, Darity said Durham has only scratched the surface of what it’ll take.

“At the national level reparation is overdue for 155 years," said Darity, who has studied reparations for 30 years. He said there have been several historic moments when the trajectory of racial inequality could have been changed.

“Stemming from the point at which the formerly enslaved were denied the 40 acres of restitution they were promised," he said.

Now Bull City leaders are trying to right those wrongs, unanimously approving a resolution to call for federal dollars and reduce the racial wealth gap.

To bridge that wealth gap, he said it’ll cost the federal government up to $12 trillion dollars. He believes that’s a consequence for the inequities that exist today.

“It’s the federal government that created the legal and authority framework that sustained slavery, that sustained nearly 100 years of legal segregation, and sustained a wave of atrocities including mass incarceration, police executions of unarmed blacks, the discrimination in employment," said Darity.

While Durham’s proposal to support those suffering economically is a starting point, he believes it will take a coalition to trace down descendants and begin instituting reparations.

“We’re in a comparatively good position in the present moment. A better position than really I have ever witnessed in my lifetime," said Darity.

Currently a reparations bill is being proposed at the federal level. There is no word on how much money individuals would receive.

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