Kansas City ordinance outlines proposed slave reparations for Black residents

An ordinance has been filed in Kansas City that would establish a commission to look into slave...
An ordinance has been filed in Kansas City that would establish a commission to look into slave reparations for Black residents.(KCTV5 News)
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 8:07 AM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - A year and a half after Mayor Quinton Lucas pledged to establish a pilot program for reparations for Black Kansas City residents, a recently-filed ordinance outlines how the proposal would move forward.

Ordinance # 220966, sponsored by Councilmember Melissa Robinson, states it is “expressing apologies on behalf of the City of Kansas City and declaring the City’s intent to make amends for its participation in the sanctioning of the enslavement of Black people and any historical enforcement of segregation and accompanying discriminatory practices against Black citizens of Kansas City, encouraging others to join the City in this effort, and establishing a commission within 90 days to be known as the Mayor’s Commission on Reparations to advise the City regarding reparation issues.”

The proposal is currently in the city’s Special Committee For Legal Review, which was initially set to discuss and potentially vote on the measure Tuesday afternoon. That meeting appears to have been canceled due to a lack of quorum, in which case the measure may be brought up at the committee’s January meeting.

Lucas is one of 11 U.S. mayors who promised in Summer 2021 to establish a pilot program for slave reparations in order to counter the racial wealth gap in Kansas City and across the country. The Urban League of Greater Kansas City last month called on city officials to follow through on proposed reparations, noting several major wealth discrepancies between white and Black Kansas Citians. The Kansas City Star covered those calls by the Urban League and noted that:

  • Black median household income is 62.9 percent when compared to White household income
  • Black home ownership rate is 56 percent when compared to White home ownership rate
  • Black people in the greater Kansas City area are unemployed at rates between 1.5 to 2 times higher than white people
  • Black children in greater Kansas City are two to three times more likely than white children to live in poverty or live in a household without a parent in the labor force
  • In Jackson County, Black children are three times more likely than white students to be suspended from school for 10 or more days
  • Seventy-two percent of murder victims are Black while 20 percent of murder victims are white

Full text of that proposed ordinance can be found here. It states a 17-member Mayor’s Commission on Reparations would study and develop reparations proposals for the city to review.

“Proposals should focus on five impact areas, including housing (homeownership and affordable housing), economic development, health, education, and criminal justice,” the ordinance states. “The Commission should include members who understand and are sensitive to the needs of the Black community.”

The commission would meet monthly, and each member would receive a $75 stipend per meeting.

“The Commission will issue a preliminary report of its findings within one year of its inaugural meeting and a final report will be issued within six (6) months thereafter,” the ordinance states.

KCTV5 will continue to update the situation as it develops.