By Antonio R. Harvey | Sacramento OBSERVER
Nearly a month after a commission appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom met to study offering reparations in California, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg joined nearly a dozen mayors to address the impact of slavery in the United States.
The mayors of 11 U.S. cities, including Steinberg, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, said Friday, June 18, that they are committed to paying reparations for slavery, but gave few details on how it would be accomplished.
The coalition, Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity (MORE), made their announcement a day before Steinberg attended the 18th annual Juneteenth celebration held in Sacramento’s William Land Park.
“As an elected official, stepping up is a start,” Steinberg told CBS13 in explaining his reasoning for joining the coalition. “It’s not just about celebrating a new national holiday. It’s about action – action backed by dollars. We are moving in that direction in Sacramento but we’re far from done. We’ve got a long way to go.”
The cities include Sacramento; St. Louis; Tullahassee, Oklahoma; Providence, Rhode Island; Austin, Texas; Durham, North Carolina; Asheville, North Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri, and St. Paul, Minnesota.
“Black Americans don’t need another study that sits on a shelf,” St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, the city’s first Black female mayor and a member of the group, said on MORE’s website, moremayors.org. “We need decisive action to address the racial wealth gap holding communities back across our country.”
The members of MORE agreed to:
- Commit to supporting H.R. 40 (Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act).
- Form an advisory committee/commission to formally advise mayors on an approach to reparations — including strategies and opportunities to seek public and/or private dollars to fund pilot programs.
- When funding is identified, and in consultation with the committee/commission, lead development and implementation of a pilot reparations program targeted at a cohort of Black residents.
The local programs would vary in style and scope, and be considered very modest in the context of the estimated $12 trillion in federal spending required to close the Black-White wealth gap. But they would serve as high-profile demonstrations for how the nation can more quickly move from conversation to action on reparations for Black Americans.
According to a report by the New York Times posted on MORE’s website, “Black Americans remain the most segregated group of people in America and are five times as likely to live in high-poverty neighborhoods as White Americans.”
“Black families earning $75,000 or more a year live in poorer neighborhoods than White Americans earning less than $40,000 a year, research by John Logan, a Brown University sociologist, shows,” MORE said in a written statement.
MORE’s website said research conducted by Stanford University sociologist Sean Reardon found that “the average Black family earning $100,000 a year lives in a neighborhood with an average annual income of $54,000.”
The coalition said it will create formal, substantive, and viable processes to confront the history of injustice. For more information on Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity, visit moremayors.org.