Councilmember McDuffie Introduced Measures to Create a Reparations Task Force and Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis in the District of Columbia

The proposed measures will establish a Task Force to Research and Develop Reparation Proposals for African American descendants of slavery and declare racism a public health crisis in the District of Columbia.

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Contact: Jonathan McNair, 202-288-0741, jmcnair@dccouncil.us

Washington, DC – Today, Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie, Chair Pro Tempore and Chairperson of the Committee on Business and Economic Development, introduced the Reparations Task Force Establishment Act of 2020 and the Sense of the Council to Declare Racism A Public Health Crisis in the District of Columbia Resolution of 2020. The first measure would establish a 9-member task force to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans in the District of Columbia, with a Special Consideration for African Americans who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States. The second measure would declare racism a public health crisis in the District of Columbia, acknowledging that racism has resulted in race being identified as a social determinant of health, with persistent racial disparities in education, housing, healthcare, employment, worker protections, climate, food access, technology, and our criminal justice system.

With the introduction of the measures, Councilmember McDuffie stated:

“The notion that, with hard work, everyone born in the United States has an equal opportunity to succeed and achieve the American Dream is sadly not the case. We do not live in a post racial society, and racial equality has not been achieved. If ever we are going to achieve racial equity in this country, it will require official recognition of the role of governmentsanctioned slavery, segregation, and other actions in denying wealth-building opportunities to Black Americans. We must be intentional in our efforts so that Black Americans might finally be compensated for their ancestors’ labor and significant contributions which built wealth for generations of white people.The District of Columbia has one of the largest disparities in wealth between black and white residents of any city in the United States. Moreover, our city is one of the most racially segregated cities in the country. These statistics should convince any reasonable person of the need for this task force. And, any claim that these stark racial disparities can be eliminated by free market forces or if Black people simply changed their behaviors rather than government sanctioned efforts to atone for the lingering effects of structural racism is flawed.”

“I applaud Councilmember McDuffie for introducing the Reparations Task Force legislation.  This bold action is long overdue in our city and a necessary step if we hope to make serious strides at bridging racial equity gaps,” said David Bowers, Enterprise Community Partners Vice President and Mid-Atlantic Market Leader. “Enterprise has commissioned reparations related research will inform and support the Task Force’s efforts. I urge the Council to move quickly to enact the legislation.”  

“With the establishment of this task force DC is taking it’s rightful place in the rising tide of cities who are designing and deploying comprehensive strategies to achieve reparative justice for all Black people in America.  Our capacity for paying reparations and living by the ethics of reparative justice will not only provide redress for the historical and ongoing harms experienced by Black folks, they also might serve as the redefined values necessary to save America’s precarious democratic experiment. Given this, Washington, DC is just the place to model and live into this future.” – Ronnie Galvin, V.P. Racial Equity and the Democratic Economy at The Democracy Collaborative.