Editorial by Trahern Crews, co-chair for GPUS, Green Party of Minnesota, and National Black Caucus
On January 13th the Saint Paul City Council passed the historic Saint Paul Recovery Act Reparations Resolution which apologizes for holding Dred and Harriet Scott in Military slavery and for the destruction of the Rondo community. The Resolution also sets up a legislative advisory committee that will help establish the permanent Reparations Commission for the City of Saint Paul. As the Green Party National Co-Chair, I was honored to Co-Chair the steering committee which did the work of getting the resolution written and passed by the city council.
Covid 19 showed how the racial wealth gap, which is caused by accrued disadvantage & systemic racism, is so devastating to those whose ancestors descend from American Slavery. In addition to governmental entities, higher education, and faith communities, the November 2020 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine stated that reparations are now widely considered to be the most effective means of breaking down the societal structure related to power, money, and access to resources, and indeed may be the only solution that can be applied intergenerationally that “would be an investment in the future and in reducing disparities that have been intractable for generations.”
During the process of getting the resolution passed, the George Floyd uprising really exacerbated the need for reparations for Black Americans. At the age of 8, George Floyd’s great-grandfather Hillary Thomas Stewart, who was a slave, got his freedom. As an adult, he had amassed 500 acres of land. However, white farmers stole the land from him and his family, denying his offspring the benefits of generational wealth. This theft has happened to many Black families whose ancestors descend from American chattel slavery; now it is time for bold reparatory justice policies that will address these historical injustices.
The goal of the Green Party National Black Caucus reparations working group is to get HR40 passed into law. HR40 is federal legislation put forward by a House committee to address the long term effects of slavery with reparations for Black Americans. I believe passing resolutions and ordinances at the local level puts pressure on states and federal governments to address the issue of reparations; we can’t wait for another 30 years for this proposal to pass! According to Forbes, the median income for Black households will be zero by 2053. Reparations are part of the Green Party platform and