Mar 1, 2023 - News

Detroit's Reparations Task Force takes shape

Photo illustration of an abstract collage of a Black hand holding a pen, a redlining map of Detroit and a sign for I-375.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: National Archives, via Mapping Inequality, Education Images/Universal Images Group, via Getty Images

Detroit's Reparations Task Force has been formally introduced after the City Council approved 13 members last week, with each council member electing one of their own nominees.

State of play: Council President Mary Sheffield, who has led the city's reparations effort, held a news conference last Friday to announce the task force's executive committee at the West Side Unity Church.

  • "The enslavement and overall persecution of Black people has enriched our country and created disparities in income, wealth and education," Sheffield said, per the Free Press. "Evidence of this systemic racism is still present today."

Details: The four executive members, appointed by Sheffield, include co-chairs Lauren Hood and Keith Williams, plus Dorian Tyus and former city council member JoAnn Watson.

  • Nonexecutive members include Allen Venable, Gregory Hicks, Janis Hazel, Anita Belle, Bernard Parker, Jeffrey Robinson, Maurice Weeks, Cidney Calloway and Camille Collins.

Flashback: In 2021, 80% of residents approved a ballot measure to establish a commission investigating reparations for Black Detroiters.

  • Black communities here and across the country have been stripped of economic opportunities for centuries. A number of other cities and counties, plus the state of California, have already established reparations commissions.

What they're saying: "We'll be looking at how we can, in a meaningful way, repair some of those past injustices," Reparations Task Force member Dorian Tyus and municipal government attorney tells Axios.

  • "There's going to be many more steps in this process, but once this is completed, there's going to be some policy recommendations that City Council can use or at least run with and further investigate in order to get this across the finish line," Tyus says.

What we're watching: Members say it's still too early to know what the final recommendation will look like, as there hasn't been a concrete timeline outlined yet.

  • Members begin meeting this month.

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