In Council News, Jamie Gauthier, Kendra Brooks by Jamie Gauthier

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PHILADELPHIA – Today, Councilmembers Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) and Kendra Brooks (At-Large) introduced a resolution establishing the Philadelphia Reparations Task Force. The resolution will be enacted during City Council’s next slated meeting on June 22nd. The Philadelphia Reparations Task Force will study and develop reparations proposals for Black Philadelphian Descendants of Enslaved Africans in the United States. This action is the culmination of months of hard work between City Council, the Philadelphia chapter of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA), and the community.

“On the eve of Juneteenth, City Council is taking a major step to address the lingering chokehold the institution of slavery has on modern-day Philadelphia,” Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) said. “We can trace a direct line between the institution of slavery and gun violence, poverty, gentrification, and many other crises that disproportionately impact the Black Philadelphian Descendants of Enslaved Africans. That’s why I am proud to establish the Philadelphia Reparations Task Force, so we determine once and for all what the City must do to eliminate extraordinary racial disparities.”

By establishing the Philadelphia Reparations Task Force, the City of Philadelphia follows the lead of California, New Jersey, Amherst, MA, Wilmington, DE, Chicago, IL, and Detroit, MI. As the birthplace of the United States, Philadelphia has an obligation to thoroughly examine its role in enabling the nation’s original sin of slavery, as well as rectify the harms this shameful institution continues to inflict on the Black community.

“Every day we can see the ongoing impact of slavery and racist policies on the people of Philadelphia,” Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At-Large) said. “Despite the heroic efforts of Black leaders and the astounding resilience of Black communities, Black children still get far fewer resources and opportunities than white children, and Black families still suffer from poverty, violence, and other dangerous conditions at far higher rates than white families. As a practitioner of restorative justice, I believe that we cannot escape this cycle of poverty and violence without addressing the original cause of harm. We owe it to the people of Philadelphia, the largest portion of whom are Black, to examine reparations as a way to make up for hundreds of years of exploitation and move toward the equality that was promised to Black people long ago.”

Reparations may be needed to mitigate the extraordinary economic, educational, housing, and healthcare disparities between Black Philadelphians, especially those descended from Enslaved Africans, and the general population. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Philadelphians had a poverty rate more than twice that of non-Hispanic, white Philadelphians. At the same time, 2.5% of the city’s businesses are Black-owned, even though more than 40% of the city’s population is Black.

“N’COBRA PHL is excited to continue the work of our ancestors who advocated and organized for reparations for Descendants of Africans Enslaved in the United States,” said Breanna Moore, Co-Chair of N’COBRA PHL. “This task force is the dream of Callie House, Queen Mother Moore, and Imari Obadele. We stand on their shoulders, and countless ancestors and elders. We are ready to do the work needed to repair the lives of Black Philadelphians.”

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