North Carolina City Approves Reparations, Apologizes for Role in Slavery

July 16, 2020 Updated: July 16, 2020

A city council in North Carolina unanimously passed a resolution that apologized for the city’s role in slavery and is aimed at leading to reparations, or payments to black residents.

The Asheville City Council passed the resolution 7-0 this week.

The City Council and the City of Asheville “apologizes and makes amends” for participating in and sanctioning the enslavement of black people, for its enforcement of segregation, and “for carrying out an urban renewal program that destroyed multiple, successful black communities,” the resolution states.

Reparations aren’t in the form of direct payments.

City Council members directed Asheville’s manager to establish a process that would allocate money “to specifically address the creation of generational wealth and to boost economic mobility and opportunity in the black community.”

Councilman Keith Young, a Democrat, mentioned the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.

“The blood capital that we have banked to spend today to fight for significant change came predominantly not from our allies, but from black men, women, and children who died,” Young said.

“It is simply not enough to remove statues. Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature,” he added.

Slavery of black people in the United States was legal until the 1860s, when it was abolished by the 13th Amendment.

Asheville’s population is 83 percent white and about 12 percent black.

Residents had mixed reactions; most who spoke were in support of the resolution.

Rob Thomas, community liaison for the Racial Justice Coalition, which helped advocate for reparations, told members that “this is a really, really good gesture as far as the foundation of what we can build.”

Another public speaker, Jacqueline Morrison, pointed out that the city’s police chief, city manager, and some council members are black. That’s an “indication that blacks can succeed in Asheville. So, to dump this all on us white folk—I think is offensive,” she said.

The Black Asheville Demands coalition, informally affiliated with Black Lives Matter, had demanded the city fund reparations.

A number of residents spoke in favor of reparations during the City Council hearing. One said that the funds should come out of the Asheville Police Department budget.

City officials said they’re working on a response to demands by the Black Asheville Demands coalition.

The coalition, which is informally affiliated with Black Lives Matter, had demanded the city fund reparations.

It’s also calling for defunding the Asheville Police Department by 50 percent and redirecting the money to supporting businesses owned by black people, improving education for minorities, and funding an all-civilian oversight committee that would oversee the department.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber