The Asheville, North Carolina, city council made history on Tuesday night when all seven members voted to provide reparations to black residents and their future descendants.
The council also unanimously voted to apologize for slavery and discrimination.
“Hundreds of years of black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today,” said Keith Young, who is one of two black council members.
“It is simply not enough to remove statues. Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature,” Young said.
Councilwoman Sheneika Smith, who is black, said the council had been contacted by Asheville residents prior to the meeting and asked why white Americans who have nothing to do with slavery, racism or discrimination have to pay reparations, as if they’re guilty simply because of the way they look.
“[Slavery] is this institution that serves as the starting point for the building of the strong economic floor for white America, while attempting to keep blacks subordinate forever to its progress,” Smith said on the record in response.
Councilman Vijay Kapoor, who has disagreed with Young and Smith on anti-police and budgetary issues in the past, said he supported Tuesday’s reparations measure for moral reasons.
“We don’t want to be held back by these gaps,” Kapoor said. “We want everyone to be successful.”
The council passed a resolution creating a Community Reparations Commission.
The commission will partner government officials with community organizing groups to develop concrete recommendations for reparations programs and future funding resources.
“The resulting budgetary and programmatic priorities may include but not be limited to increasing minority home ownership and access to other affordable housing, increasing minority business ownership and career opportunities, strategies to grow equity and generational wealth, closing the gaps in health care, education, employment and pay, neighborhood safety and fairness within criminal justice,” the resolution reads.