Mayor Quinton Lucas announces appointees to Commission on Reparations

Screenshot 2023 05 05 At 22549 Pm

State of the City Address 2022. // Screengrab from the official stream

Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Monday the appointment of 13 members to the Mayor’s Commission on Reparations, a newly formed commission aimed at studying and recommending actions for reparatory justice for Black community in Kansas City. 

This appointment comes after an ordinance that passed in January formalizing the establishment of a commission to develop reparations proposals to make amends for the city’s sanctioning of enslavement of Black people and any past enforcement of segregation, according to the authenticated ordinance.

The commission is composed of community leaders from across the city, ranging from a high school student to non-profit leaders and professors. 

Kansas City Defender editor and founder Ryan Sorrell is one appointee selected by Lucas to study the city’s history of discrimination and possibly reparatory justice strategies.

“This historic move by the city is a much-needed step towards acknowledging the harm that has been inflicted upon the Black community and working towards a future of justice and equality,” says an article by the staff of the award-winning digital news start-up for Black news, politics, and culture.

Reparations proposals will focus on five impact areas in the ordinance: housing, economic development, health, education and criminal justice. 

The ordinance, sponsored by Third District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson, listed several specific examples illustrating disparities between the Black and non-Black populations in Kansas City. Among these is the staggering statistic that the median household net worth of a white family in Kansas City is $188,200, compared to $24,100 for a Black family.

The discussion of reparations isn’t new in the U.S., nor is the enactment of reparations legislation. Evanston, IL became the first U.S. city to pay reparations for Black residents in 2021 through its Restorative Housing Reparations program. Mirroring the reparation efforts of Kansas City, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones appointed nine members to its new reparations committee in March.

This weekend, The California Reparations Task Force will vote on a series of proposals that could lead to payments of $1.2 million in reparations to Black Californians. This comes after the task force’s release of a 500-page report on the impact of slavery and egregious discriminatory practices across California and the country.

As we wait on Kansas City’s first report of a similar caliber, we are curious to know a timeline and when we can expect to see reparation proposals up for a vote. Of course, the language of preparation “recommendations” begs clarification as to how seriously they will be considered when the time comes.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas first pledged reparations for Black residents in 2021. His plans started to materialize when Ordinance 220966 was filed in October 2022.

The inaugural meeting for the commission is not yet scheduled. The commission will issue a preliminary report within one year following this meeting and a final report within six months of the first report.

Categories: Politics