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Detroit voters back committee to study reparations

Associated Press / Carlos Osorio

Detroit residents on Tuesday voted in resounding support of a resolution to establish a city commission to study reparations, making Motown the latest city in the country to pass such a measure.

The measure, dubbed “Proposal R,” passed with more than 80 percent support.

The to-be-established panel will be tasked with making “recommendations for housing and economic development programs that address historical discrimination against the Black community in Detroit,” according to the resolution’s text.

More than 75 percent of Detroit residents are Black; Detroit is the largest predominantly Black city in the country. 

Keith Williams, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus, told The Detroit News that “timing is everything.”

“We had a groundswell of support from different organizations to bring this to fruition. The most important thing is it’s time for reconciliation. It’s time to heal and let’s move the city forward,” he added.

Reparations for Black people — which were first championed by late Michigan Rep. John Conyers (D) in 1989 — have gained steam in recent years.

Back in March, Evanston, Ill., became the first city in the country to pass a reparations program for its Black residents.

Now spearheaded by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), the longstanding congressional bill known as H.R. 40 has nearly 200 co-sponsors in the House, the most it has ever garnered. The proposal would establish a federal commission to study reparations and has the support of President Biden.

The bill is one of the Congressional Black Caucus’s top legislative priorities this session.

In April, H.R. 40 was successfully voted out of committee for the first time, but it has yet to be brought to a vote on the House floor.

Proponents of the cause point to the concerning wealth gap between white and Black people in the U.S.

In 2019, the median net worth of a Black family was $24,100, while the median net worth of a white family was nearly eight times higher than that at $188,200.

Tags detroit election Illinois Joe Biden John Conyers Michigan Reparations Sheila Jackson Lee

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