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The Caucus of African American Leaders (CAAL) voted unanimously Tuesday evening to present a reparations resolution to Maryland officials, seeking programs to address the damage of slavery among Black Maryland residents.
“I’m inspired,” said Carl Snowden, the convenor of the caucus, which is composed of Black organizations, elected officials and activists, in a statement to ABC News following the vote.
“This is the time to energize, mobilize, and organize people of goodwill to make this happen,” said Carl Snowden.
The resolution will be presented to Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley next week, and then to Gov. Wes Moore and Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman in August.
“What we’re hoping is that those elected officials would agree that this is important,” Snowden said in an interview with ABC News the morning of the vote. Part of asking them “to look at this issue is they will undoubtedly appoint a committee or commission, which would have the responsibility of looking at the local jurisdictions in the state and determine the best way to move forward,” he added.
To gain insight about how the Caucus of African American Leaders should pursue reparations, it held a meeting Monday with Robin Rue Simmons, a former alderman in Evanston, Illinois.
She spearheaded a reparations resolution in the city, which became the first in the nation to fund reparations for Black residents — committing $10 million to Black residents targeted by discriminatory policies.
Underscoring the need for reparations, Snowden said the harm to African Americans due to racist policies is self-evident.
“It explains why we have this wealth and health gap,” he said. “When you look at the problems that are in the African American community, many of these problems can be traced directly back to slavery.”
“The idea of reparations is not new,” Snowden noted, pointing to how Japanese Americans incarcerated in internment camps during WWII received them. “I’m confident we can do the same thing here in Maryland.”
“A plurality of Americans,” says Tatishe Nteta, “don’t believe the descendants of slaves deserve reparations.”
As a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Nteta discovered other reasons opponents cite is that it’s “impossible to place a monetary value on the impact of slavery” and “African Americans are treated equally in society today.”
Nteta, and also the Pew Research Center, find about three-quarters or more of White adults oppose reparations, and so do a majority of Latinos and Asian Americans.
An overwhelming 79% of Black Americans said racism is either the biggest problem or a problem in the United States, according to a recent USA TODAY/Suffolk University survey. That far exceeded the 39% of Whites and 46% of Hispanics who said the same.
Pia Harris, a Black activist and program director for the San Francisco Housing Development Corp., said reparations are necessary to compensate for the lack of progress made in housing discrimination and other areas.
“We’re just trying to be brought to the same point as everyone else. We really are at a disadvantage and not at a starting line,” Harris told USA Today.