$2.1 million in reparations for “black residents in a mostly white community” was approved by the city council in Asheville, North Carolina this week. In a unanimous vote, the approval for funding occurred “without debate Wednesday so that it could be finalized before Juneteenth” reports Just the News. Juneteenth refers to the day when the end of slavery is celebrated, short for June 19th.
Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer called the vote a “monumental moment” and funding will come from the sale of city property. In December, the city sold a property to White Labs Inc. for roughly $3.7 million. $1.6 million was reallocated for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) in March, with the remaining $2.1 million to go towards the reparations plans in place.
From the sale, $200,000 is to be spent on the planning and community engagement process, with the remaining $1.9 million on “initial reparations.” Just the News reports “Ashville made history in July when it voted to grant reparations for slavery to Black people.”
The U.S. Census Bureau data shows Asheville’s population is 84% white, 11% Black, and 1.7% Asian with roughly 2% identifying as more than one race, and less than 1% are American Indian or Pacific Islanders. According to a 2018 disparity report conducted by the city, Black residents are paid less and own fewer homes than white residents in Asheville.
Encompassed within the July vote, the “council apologized for slavery and segregation and voted to develop a plan and form a commission to provide funding to address racial inequities and disparities.” Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell is overseeing the planning and community engagement.
Campbell plans to launch a speaker series centered around reparations, stating, “we truly want to have a better understanding of what has been the policies that either currently exist or have existed in the past that have impacted the lives, particularly of black people in Asheville.”
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