The Carrboro Town Council passed a resolution concerning reparations for the Black community at a Tuesday meeting, joining other municipalities that have begun reckoning with the lasting impacts of racial inequality.
The resolution calls attention to the history of racial inequality caused by slavery, discrimination, segregation and the impact these actions have left on modern America.
“I think it’s a really important document and a very important initiative for us as a Town to undertake,” council member Sammy Slade said at the meeting. “This is the time, if ever there was a time.”
The resolution proposes six items to try to deal with the question of reparations. These items include:
- Apologies for slavery, segregation and discriminatory practices
- The creation of a racial equity commission
- A biannual update on what measures are being taken as a result of the resolution
- Calls for state and federal bodies to also consider the issue more seriously.
Some council members voiced concerns that the issue is complicated because funds for such projects are difficult to come by, especially as the pandemic has reduced tax revenue and stretched budgets thin.
Council member Barbara Foushee said she would like to see meaningful developments and investments designed for long-term sustainability and change.
“One thing that I’ve been thinking about that I know for me is the reparations conversation is not about giving anybody a handout or a check,” Foushee said at the meeting. “It is about true community change, specifically within the Black community.”
Potential steps, like examining the impact of gentrification in the destruction of generational wealth among Black communities, evaluating the consequences of discriminatory housing policy and examining how to help Black businesses, were floated as future options.
Focus was also placed on what next steps the Town could take after the resolution passed. Members raised different ideas on how this could be achieved, ranging from the aforementioned local reform to encouraging voters to take action at higher levels of government.
“We can be encouraging people to become advocates, whether it’s writing letters to our state and federal officials or making those phone calls,” council member Susan Romaine said at the meeting. “I’d love to see some vehicle for encouraging that kind of advocacy at the state and federal level.”
The resolution passed with the support of all council members present. Council member Damon Seils pointed out how this action could provide a starting point to work with other towns and bodies in the state also working on reparations.
“This is a really great opportunity for Carrboro to be building relationships with the folks in other communities in North Carolina that are doing similar work and learning from them,” Seils said.
The city of Asheville passed a similar resolution in July, which Carrboro Town Council members pointed to as a potential blueprint for how they could act going forward. Durham also approved a resolution that called on the federal government to consider reparations.
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