City establishes Reparations Task Force per Council resolution

City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier has announced at City Hall the launch of the Philadelphia Reparations Task Force.

The group will be charged with analyzing and reporting on how reparations can atone for the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and institutional racism in America for Black Philadelphians.

The task force was established last year through a City Council resolution on the eve of Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States.

“Until we look into our past with the determination to uncover the entire truth, no matter how ugly or scary that truth may be, our nation’s original sin will continue to toxify the present and our future,” Gauthier said.

The 10-member group is made up of volunteers with two co-chairs.

One co-chair is Rashaun Williams, who has worked as a K-12 academic enrichment program coordinator and is co-chair of the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America.

The other co-chair is Breanna Moore, a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania.

“A nation of God’s children have been prosecuted for walking in the truth of who and what they are, for too long,” Moore said.

Other task force members include: Ayanna Stephens, principal of The Workshop School; Kevin Mansa, founder of Black Royalty, LLC, an online education platform that teaches wealth generation for Black people; and Cara McClellan, founding director and practice associate professor of the Advocacy for Racial and Civil (ARC) Justice Clinic at Penn Carey Law School.

Volunteer committees will also focus on seven sectors that include education, economic justice and Atlantic world history.

“History includes various levels of state abandonment,” said City Councilmember Nicholas O’Rourke. “The more we learn about slavery, the more we learn about its after-life.”

He expressed concern about tie-in issues to slavery and the effects of racism, including an overdose crisis in Black communities.

“Philadelphia is the city where American democracy was established,” McClellan said. “Unfortunately, Philadelphia is also shaped by the legacy of slavery and its afterlife, including mass incarceration, redlining and educational apartheid. The work of reparations in Philadelphia is therefore critical to ensuring truth, reconciliation and the repair of democratic principles.”

Ken Morgan, who attended Tuesday’s launch, advocated specifically for “cash-based reparations,” based upon ancestry and the U.S. Census.

“Only three generations separate us from slavery in my family,” he said. “My grandmother, who lived to be 97, just died. And Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was just assassinated 56 years ago, not a long time ago.”

The task force will host several public listening sessions on how to handle reparations, whether by repairing a lack of fairness in the health and housing markets or correcting injustices in the criminal justice and legal system.

The next scheduled hearing is Saturday, June 29, at Saint Joseph’s University.

“This is about repairing, making up for the harm and getting our community to a better place,” Gauthier said.

From The Philadelphia Tribune