Mayor Muriel Bowser

D.C. Council Approves Funds for Black Residents Reparations

The funding will implement a task force act introduced by Councilman Kenyan McDuffie in 2023

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On June 25, the D.C. Council granted final approval to the city’s fiscal 2025 budget, which includes a provision for funding a study on reparations for Black residents. This budget now awaits Mayor Muriel Bowser’s signature and must pass a Congressional review period.

The budget allocates funds to implement the Reparations Foundation Fund and Task Force Establishment Act of 2023, a bill introduced by Councilman Kenyan McDuffie last year. While the bill hasn’t yet passed, the inclusion of preliminary funding signals strong support for its eventual enactment. Nine of the 12 other council members have co-sponsored the Act, which had a public hearing in June 2023.

McDuffie told the Washington Post that while the fight to pass the bill continues, the budget inclusion is a critical step forward. He expects a markup of the bill to occur in the fall.

The proposed legislation would establish a commission to address alleged generations of racism and discrimination against Black residents of Washington, D.C.. This commission would be tasked with researching and developing potential proposals for reparations.

This move comes amid a national conversation about reparations. California, for instance, has recommended reparations for alleged harms against Black residents, while Evanston, Illinois has begun distributing reparations to Black residents for past government actions. At the federal level, some Democrats have proposed reparations, but the idea has not gained widespread support within the party.

However, there have been concerns about watering down Black history in states like Virginia where terms including ‘institutional racism’ and ‘white supremacy’ are being considered to be removed from an African American history course in all its schools

While slavery was outlawed in 1865 with the 13th Amendment, and polls show a majority of adults oppose reparations for slave descendants, some states and cities have moved forward with studies and plans for various forms of reparations.

The D.C. initiative represents a significant step in local efforts to address historical injustices and their ongoing impacts on the Black community.

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