Reparations fight roars as some cities push million-dollar payments to Black Americans: 'Our civic obligation'

Posted 15 days ago


The battle over reparations is growing across the United States, as local, state and federal officials weigh everything up to seven-figure direct payments to Black Americans.

While some advocates call it a long-overdue policy addressing a history of oppression, its foes call it a misguided, divisive and harmful approach that exacerbates issues rather than solving them. Polls show it is broadly unpopular with Americans, but it nevertheless has received serious attention in both Washington and municipalities around the country.

Rep. Cori Bush D-Mo., alongside several other progressive lawmakers, unveiled the Reparations NOW resolution last week, calling for $14 trillion in reparations for Black Americans.

"The United States has a moral and legal obligation to provide reparations for the enslavement of Africans and its lasting harm on the lives of millions of Black people," Bush said in a news conference.

Amid the debate, policy experts are divided on the feasibility and necessity of reparations.

"The reason why we are experiencing this momentum at the moment is because the present is catching up with overdue history," Cornell William Brooks, a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, told Fox News Digital, adding that the push is to make amends for America’s history of slavery.

"Reparations is about repair," Brooks said. "And that may mean a variety of forms of reparations to people who have been harmed in different ways, children who've been harmed, adults who have been or are the descendants of chattel slaves, but also those who have endured the harm of Jim Crow segregation."

Brooks, who is a civil rights attorney and also formerly served as the president and CEO of the NAACP, said people should not be making money allocations until a larger conversation is had.

"We want to talk about receipts and price tags before we talk about harm, and we don't do that in any other context," Brooks said.

He added that when someone is a victim of a crime, they are first asked about how they were a victim before discussing monetary value.

"So before we had this big conversation about who and, you know, receipts and checks, let's make sure we have a conversation about who's been harmed and how," he added. "My fear is that—as I like to put it—the economic ‘how’ paralyzes the moral ‘why,’ and we won't get to reparations at all."

Robert Woodson, a civil rights activist who opposes reparations, said the push is purely political.

"My most cynical self says that this is more about the elections of 2024 than it's about reparations from 1619," Woodson said, who is also the founder and president of the Woodson Center.

Woodson, who went viral for slamming reparations on "Dr. Phil" last month, told Fox News Digital that reparations would not solve the problems facing the Black community today.

"In order to solve a problem, you've got to properly diagnose, and reparations is no answer for the challenges facing large numbers of Blacks in these cities," he said. "It is lethal to continue to direct attention away from the critical problems and challenges facing Blacks and reparations is a major distraction."

"It's a ploy," Woodson said. "It's just keeping us all at each other's throats, and it's being used cynically by people who really are trying to undermine the fundamental values of this nation."

Municipalities and states have also taken action. The California Reparations Task Force recommended $1.2 million in payments to every qualifying Black state resident earlier this month.

Evanston, Illinois approved a plan to distribute $25,000 for home repairs or down payments on property for qualified Black residents, and a proposed plan in San Francisco is estimated to cost over $100 billion.

Other cities and organizations have developed commissions to study and consider whether to enact reparations, including a group of Democratic mayors, Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity, which announced a partnership in 2021 to take action.... (Read more)