Posted on January 6, 2023

St. Paul Forms Permanent Reparations Commission in Move Toward ‘Real Racial Justice’

Katie Galioto, Star Tribune, January 4, 2023

St. Paul will soon appoint members to a new commission that will recommend ways for the capital city to make reparations to Black residents whose ancestors were enslaved.

On Wednesday, the City Council unanimously voted to create the St. Paul Recovery Act Community Reparations Commission, a permanent advisory body with powers and duties laid out in city code.

“When George Floyd was murdered in 2020, it became clear that all of us, in any position where we had any ability to make change, needed to make a real commitment to never go backwards,” said Council Member Jane Prince, the ordinance’s lead sponsor. {snip}

The 11-person commission will advise Mayor Melvin Carter and the council on policy and budget decisions “to specifically address the creation and sustainment of generational wealth for the American Descendants of Chattel Slavery and to boost economic mobility and opportunity in the American Descendants of Chattel Slavery community,” according to the ordinance.

The push for reparations in St. Paul was born of a grassroots movement, which eventually led to a formal apology for the city’s role in institutional racism nearly two years ago. Following that, a city-appointed group met regularly for a year to study reparations {snip}

That group, which reported its findings to the council last summer, said the commission’s first task should be to consider direct cash payments to eligible residents.


“You guys are setting an example for the rest of the country with what you’re doing here,” Trahern Crews, a national advocate for reparations who co-chaired St. Paul’s temporary committee, told the council at a public hearing last month.


Carter has proposed a program, dubbed the Inheritance Fund, that would allow some former Rondo residents and their descendants to apply for up to $100,000 in forgivable loans for a down payment or housing rehabilitation in St. Paul. {snip}


Council members lauded Wednesday’s vote as a “historic moment,” culminating with applause from onlookers.