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North Carolina City To Apologize For Slavery, Pay Reparations To Black Residents


The city of Asheville, N.C., is taking a big step to address racial inequality. Last night, local leaders approved a resolution to pave the way for reparations for the Black community. From Blue Ridge Public Radio, Matt Bush reports.

MATT BUSH, BYLINE: What shape those reparations will take will be decided over the next year by a commission created by the Asheville City Council. Keith Young is one of the council's two Black members.

KEITH YOUNG: The blood capital that we have banked to spend today to fight for significant change came predominantly not from our allies, but from Black men, women and children who died.

BUSH: The resolution does formally apologize for the city's participation in slavery and the enforcement of past segregation and discriminatory policies. In the last week, two Confederate monuments have been removed from the city's main square where slaves were sold before the Civil War. This new reparations commission will examine many issues, from minority homeownership to fully funding public transit and looking at disparities in the education system. But there won't necessarily be payments to the descendants of slaves. Rob Thomas with the Racial Justice Coalition says what the Black community in Asheville needs are land and money.

ROB THOMAS: They're asking you to look at the facts and seeing, like, OK, yeah, this happened. This happened. This many people died. This much money was taken out of the Black community, and it would equal this much today. Like, these are facts. Like, we're not asking anybody to accept anything. We're asking for people to do what is right.

BUSH: Asheville is an international tourist destination in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains with a renowned arts, food and beer scene. But decades of gentrification helped fuel that and push out members of the Black community. This new reparations commission still has plenty of details to work out, and there is skepticism of what will ultimately happen. Even with the city's progressive reputation, it still has a ways to go to earn the trust of its Black residents.

For NPR News, I'm Matt Bush in Asheville, N.C.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.