ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — A resolution passed by Asheville City Council is making national headlines. Council voted unanimously Tuesday to provide reparations to the Black community.
“In my mind, this resolution is a first step in that it makes a vast list of historical wrongs that have been perpetuated against the Black community up until this very day,” council member Sheneika Smith said.
NC CITY PASSES REPARATIONS FOR BLACK RESIDENTS
The resolution marks a move that officially recognizes the injustices of centuries and attempts to right the wrongs.
It’s also a way to formally apologize to Black residents for the city's role in slavery, discriminatory housing practices and other racist policies throughout its history.
“This is a movement that largely describes the treatment of Blacks in America for a sustained period of time,” councilman Keith Young said. “I am a Black man, with a Black family, and anything that we do in my mind has to outlive the emotions of this present moment.”
Now that the resolution has passed, what does it mean? And what will change in Asheville?
That's what many people who live in the community want to know.
“It’s a buzz word. It sounds great. It’s a good first step. It’s a good first step, but I really want to see, in order for it to be a true win, what type of action is gonna come behind it,” said Keynon Lake, Founder of My Daddy Taught Me That.
Lake, who grew up in Asheville, runs My Daddy Taught Me That, a grassroots organization that helps young men in the community prepare for life.
“The program is for anyone. Anyone” Lake said.
Lake said he thinks the resolution is a good first step.
“My whole thing is how will this transpire and what’s gonna come of it? Is it gonna be more lip service? Is it gonna be something that just sounds great? Or is it gonna be a real intentional action plan to do some real work to support the black community,” Lake said.
'THE CHANGE WE ARE WITNESSING RIGHT NOW IS HISTORIC,' ASHEVILLE CITY COUNCILMAN SAYS
Council member Julie Mayfield said that's the goal.
“What we’re gonna be looking at doing is using the power of government. What we can do. We can create policies. We can create programs. We can fund things. We can create structures and systems,” Mayfield said.
Lake said he hopes that happens.
“Asheville made a very, very profound step and pretty much put the country on notice,” he said. “If they do it, I hope that they’re gonna get it right.”
The resolution also calls for the creation of a Community Reparations Commission made up of businesses, local groups and elected officials.
The commission will issue detailed recommendations, with plans to implement the reparations in the short and long term.
“The city of Asheville is one of the many institutions throughout our nation grappling with addressing historical and continued structural racism. The resolution unanimously adopted by council acknowledges this and expresses support for the concept of reparations," Mayor Esther Manheimer said. "It's clear to me that federal reparations legislation would be the most impactful. However, this is a conversation that is happening among diverse groups of people in cities and towns throughout United States, and, through our resolution, the city of Asheville has joined in this conversation.”