Durham pushes for federal reparations for descendants of enslaved Africans to close racial wealth gap

Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Durham passes resolution for federally funded reparations
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The push from Durham city leaders would ensure that millions of descendants of enslaved Africans would receive reparations.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham city leaders approved a resolution Monday night designed to reduce the racial wealth gap. Part of that resolution includes reparations.

Durham is one of our state's most diverse cities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 39% of the city's population identifies as Black or African American, compared to 23% statewide.

"Twenty percent of our people live in poverty and most of them are Black and brown and people of color, so we definitely have some work to do. On the other hand, Durham is an incredibly large, thriving, emerging city," Councilman Mark Anthony Middleton said.

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The resolution is headed to federal lawmakers. It includes a push for a program that would provide reparations to the descendants of enslaved Africans.

"You can draw a direct causal line between fortunes that are enjoyed today to slavery. Anyone that can understand childhood trauma show up in your 40s and 50s can understand how this works," said Middleton. "In the legal world if you can prove that you've been injured and those damages are lasting, you get money. We think we can make a compelling case that the legacy of slavery is still effecting the lives of African Americans in this country."

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This resolution is a result of a year-long discussion with the city's Racial Equity Task Force. In addition to reparations, the council is throwing its support behind three more federal actions to increase racial equity.

"We're pushing for the federal government in short to engage in reparations, universal basic income, a jobs guarantee and a livable wage to all citizens in this country," Middleton said.