What would reparations look like for Black residents in the city of Detroit?
Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield is closer to finding out after she passed a historic Reparations Resolution on Tuesday, June 15.
Sheffield, who posted the groundbreaking news on her Facebook page joined forces with the Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus and activists for a ballot proposal, according to her Facebook page.
The Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) Black Caucus launched a petition drive for reparations for African Americans starting with a Detroit initiative called “Yes on Fairness,” according to an article from https://www.michiganadvance.com/.
The effort garnered thousands of signatures (the deadline for signatures to put a reparations proposal on the November ballot was June 13) and succeeded in creating a committee to oversee the creation and development of a “Reparations Fund.” This would be to make recommendations for funding allocations “to address historical discrimination against the Black community in Detroit,” according to the article.
Sheffield’s resolution passed Tuesday with everyone in agreement.
“The resolution calls on all Detroiters, Michiganders, Americans and people of good faith, as well as guilty institutions, organizations, groups, and individuals, without limitation, to examine their role in causing the harm and join the effort to seek to repair the damage inflicted on those impacted,” a press release read.
“While it will take several lifetimes to fully repair the harm caused by slavery and the systemic oppression of African Americans in this country, the time has passed for us to embark upon this righteous journey,” Sheffield said in a statement. “Reparations is not only necessary to level the playing field for those impacted but it is imperative for America to maintain some semblance of moral authority in the world.”
“Today was important because it also shows council’s support for the idea of reparations and supporting a process to explore it moving forward,” Sheffield said in a Detroit Free Press article.
According to the article, Attorney Todd Perkins will submit a ballot initiative for the November election in hopes of amending a portion of the city charter which “restricts power from the voters to enact city ordinances for the appropriation of money,” per the petition. He said this is a way to use funds from marijuana revenue sales for a reparations fund or committee.
“They would then decide how these monies would be spent and for what purpose,” said Perkins in the article. “It creates a sense of understanding and acknowledgment that ‘OK, you were actually wronged.’ There’s an acknowledgment that something went wrong.”
Michigan Democratic Black Caucus Chair Keith Williams is working alongside Perkins on moving the reparations initiative forward for Black Detroit, Williams said in the article.
“You can go back to 1792 when (William) Macomb had 26 slaves,” Williams said in the article. “Then, you’re talking about housing. They wouldn’t give loans to African Americans … then you had the city of Detroit ordinances created where African Americans live in slums so they could use federal money for a highway system in their community. Then you go to the ’67 riots.”
“There’s a lot of systemic issues that African Americans face and this is a predominately Black city,” Sheffield said in the article. “I think it’s important that we acknowledge it and we at least begin to have conversations on how to address the issue of reparations.”
Read the full story here.