North Carolina City Approves Reparations for Black Americans in Historic Unanimous Vote

In a historic decision, the Asheville, North Carolina, City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to formally apologize and provide reparations to black residents.

In the 7-0 vote, the council officially apologized for slavery, discrimination and denial of basic liberties to black residents. Although the decision did not mandate direct payments to black residents, it instead allocated city funds to be invested in areas with significant racial disparities. Additionally, the city will set up a Community Reparations Commission, which will invite community groups and other local governments to participate.

“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,” the resolution said.

“Hundreds of years of black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today,” Councilman Keith Young, one of two black members of the council, said as the decision was made, the Asheville Citizen Times reported.

The Asheville, North Carolina, skyline. The City Council has voted to formally apologize and provide reparations to black residents. George Rose/Getty

“Reparations is a very complex issue and it requires a Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation model, a step-by-step approach which helps you break down your problems into its root causes, identify entry points, search for possible solutions, take action, reflect upon what you have learned, adapt and then act again,” Young told Newsweek in an email on Wednesday.

“We are seeking to embed systemic solutions into a systemic problem. This process begins and is perpetual, repeating this process over and over again. There is no completion box to check off,” he said “As far as the timeline goes, we will have some steps to report on within six months and every six months after that. This work does not end and will be adaptive, no matter what governing body holds office or who runs our city.”

Explaining why the resolution was important, Councilwoman Sheneika Smith, who is black, said that 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 to its progress,” the Asheville Citizen Times reported.