Detroit City Council votes in favor of reparations commitment

City council is following other cities who passed a similar bill

Reparations commitment moves forward in Detroit
Reparations commitment moves forward in Detroit

DETROIT – The Detroit City Council has voted in favor of a reparation commitment.

It marks the first step toward what advocates view as applying a racial equity framework for Detroit’s Black community.

The resolution was approved in just minutes by the Detroit City Council on Tuesday.

Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield presented a three-page reparations proposal addressing the unfair treatment of Black people across the country and in Detroit.

The document states that Black people have been consistently and widely impoverished by discriminatory wages paid in every sector of the economy, regardless of credentials and experience based on property, income and wealth advantage.

Previous Coverage: Detroit City Council approves reparations resolution

The city council is following other cities who passed a similar bill including Asheville, North Carolina, Evanston, Illinois, St. Paul, Minnesota and Durham, North Carolina.

The bill also states the Detroit City Council demands a strong and sufficient United States federal government program funding commitment to reparations. That includes funding programs that would be democratically administered at the local level.

That would include the right to water and sanitation, right to environmental health, right to live free from discrimination, right to recreation, right to access and mobility and right to housing, just to name a few.

First, it would have to go to the Election Commission and they would make a decision on whether the legal requirements are met.

If that’s done, it’ll be placed on the ballot in November.

Sheffield issued a statement on the reparations commitment.

“Today was a monumental step forward in the history of our City and the Nation with the passage of the resolution placing a Reparations question before the voters in Detroit. I would like to personally thank Keith Williams and the Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus, my colleagues on City Council and the members of the Reparations workgroup I established who all came together for this historic initiative. The measure, which was unanimously supported by City Council, will help move the conversation from talk to action and towards making amends for the most egregious discriminatory and racist practices of the past. Ultimately, this is about repairing the damage done to the African American community and leveling the playing field so the aggrieved have an equal and real opportunity for success and a better quality of life,” the statement read.

The statement continued, “Although we have cleared the first hurdle, the language must still be approved by the Detroit Election Commission which is comprised of the Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and City of Detroit’s Corporation Counsel Lawrence Garcia. I’m hopeful and confident that this honorable body will keep this momentum moving in the right direction and certified the language for placement on the ballot in November’s general election. Reparations is long overdue and major cities across the country have their eyes on Detroit and we could serve as a catalyst for a broader federal effort in the not so distant future.”

Read more: Group raises concerns over reparations petition circulating in Detroit


About the Authors:

Larry Spruill Jr. joined the Local 4 News team in January 2018. Prior, he worked at WJAX in Jacksonville, Florida. Larry grew up as a military kid because his father is a retired Chief of the United States Air Force.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.