Mayor Michelle Wu revealed Tuesday the members of Boston’s Reparations Task Force, setting the stage for the panel charged with guiding the city’s response to the historic impacts of slavery on the city's Black American population.
"For four hundred years, the brutal practice of enslavement and recent policies like redlining, the busing crisis, and exclusion from city contracting have denied Black Americans pathways to build generational wealth, secure stable housing, and live freely," said Wu. "Our administration remains committed to tackling long-standing racial inequities, and this task force is the next step in our commitment as a city to advance racial justice and build a Boston for everyone.”
The 10-member panel will be chaired by attorney Joseph Feaster Jr., former president of the NAACP Boston branch and a current member of the city’s Black Men and Boys Commission.
Task force members:
- Chair Joseph D. Feaster Jr.
- Denilson Fan Fan, 11th grader at Jeremiah E. Burke High School
- L’Merchie Frazier, public historian, visual activist, and executive director of creative and strategic partnerships for SPOKE Arts
- George “Chip” Greenidge Jr., founder and director of Greatest MINDS
- Dr. Kerri Greenidge, assistant professor of studies in race, colonialism and diaspora at Tufts University
- Dr. David Harris, past managing director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice
- Dorothea Jones, longtime civic organizer and member of the Roxbury Strategic Masterplan Oversight Committee
- Carrie Mays, UMass Boston student and youth leader with Teen Empowerment
- Na’tisha Mills, program manager for Embrace Boston
- Damani Williams, 11th grader at Jeremiah E. Burke High School
The task force was created last month after a year of negotiations spearheaded by At-Large City Councilor Julia Mejia. The dialogue about the measure touched on a divide among Black Bostonians about whether reparations should exclusively apply to harms suffered by Black Americans descended from slaves, or inclusively apply to Black immigrants who were not forced to the United States, or Boston, but may have still suffered impacts of systemic racism.
The legislation that created the task force outlines a three-step process for the panel to conclude in June 2024 with final recommendations to the city “for truth, reconciliation and reparations addressing the City of Boston’s involvement with the African slave trade.”
The announcement comes as government and other institutions around the nation interrogate their roles in fomenting inequality beginning with the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
In Providence, Rhode Island, officials have approved $10 million for a city reparations program. In California, the first state to establish a reparations task force, officials on that panel are nearing a July deadline to produce their own recommendations.
Boston’s Reparations Task Force announcement also comes a day after a doctoral research student unveiled evidence of 19th century Roxbury church parishioners enslaving dozens of Africans and Indigenous people in the years prior to 1783, when slavery was outlawed in Massachusetts.
This is a developing story.