The city panel tasked with recommending reparations for Black Bostonians is launching its delayed historical research project and acknowledging potential deadline extensions.

The delayed start of the research phase will likely trigger a delay in the panel’s June 30, 2024, deadline to make recommendations to the city “for truth, reconciliation, and reparations” for Boston’s involvement with the African slave trade.

The Boston Reparations Task Force has issued a request for proposals seeking teams to study six historical periods spanning from 1620 to the present.

Researchers would be charged with conducting a “comprehensive historical inquiry and produce a report on the City of Boston’s role in and historical ties to the slave trade and the institutions and legacies of slavery,” according to the official request released earlier this week. Enslavement of Africans — as well as Native Americans and others — was a central part of the economy of colonial Boston.

Researchers will be selected by early December. Their results, due by May 2024, will ultimately inform the panel’s recommendations to city officials about how to address the historic harms of enslavement.

Financing for the six research projects, a total of $500,000, will come from the city’s Equity and Inclusion Cabinet.

“To help our communities heal from the legacies of slavery and the systems of exclusion and injustice that persist today, it is essential that the City fully document the City of Boston’s role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade,” Mayor Michelle Wu said in a statement announcing the request.

The proposal solicitation comes as a parallel panel in Amherst completed its research and deliberation regarding how to compensate Black residents and affirm its commitment to end structural racism. In 2021, the city approved the creation of a reparations fund and created a panel to recommend distribution criteria. That body extended its deadline several times.

The report recommended a new BIPOC-led youth center geared towards people of African descent, more affordable housing and homeownership opportunities and a city program for cultivating entrepreneurship skills.

Boston’s announcement comes nearly three months after its original deadline for issuing findings that was outlined in the city ordinance that established the task force. The panel was supposed to tap scholars and subject matter experts to research and document Boston’s connections to the slave trade and issue a written report by June 2023.

Task force chair Joseph Feaster said the deadlines will be adjusted for the benefit of thorough research to undergird the panel’s work.

“All of the dates associated with the determination of the task force will probably be revised,” he told GBH News Tuesday.

Asked how the public should view the delays, Feaster responded: "Do they want complete and detailed information upon which [the task force] can base any of our outcomes? Then, like they say, it’s not wine until it’s time. ... We’re going to take whatever time is necessary.”

In its eight-month lifespan, the reparations task force has faced criticism on several points, including slow work pace and lackluster public engagement.

Local reparations activists greeted the start of the search for historians and the delayed timeline for recommendations with restrained optimism.

“I’m not surprised ... we were late to the party,” said Reggie Stewart, spokesperson for ADOS Boston, a group that advocates for reparations directed exclusively to Black descendants of those enslaved in America.

“An extension is definitely warranted. ... I’m glad that the task force recognizes that and is already trying to get ahead of it and ask the mayor for a [work] extension,” he added. “To cover 400 years of history in four months to the degree that we need to make recommendations is not going to happen.”

Aziza Robinson-Goodnight of Repair America Collective, an informal grassroots group dedicated to raising public discussion on reparation, said while it’s “good” the request for bids is now out, “the city needs to make a decision to extend the time of the task force. That would be in the best interest of the people ... because it started late.”

Two of the task force’s scholarly appointees have also resigned since the mayor named the original 10 members in February. The task force members were sworn into duty later in the spring.

The Boston Task Force on Reparations was approved by both a unanimous vote of the City Council and Mayor Michelle Wu last December.