The Kansas City Commission would document discriminatory practices

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Reparations: It’s an issue returning at Kansas City City Hall as elected officials consider creating a special commission on the issue.

If the city takes the step, they will join others, including St. Paul, Minnesota, and Ashville, North Carolina, which have already started their own programs.

A stated goal of these commissions is to reverse the historical effects of slavery. The proposal would also include an apology on behalf of Kansas City to make amends for participating in segregation and policies such as race-based housing laws.

On Tuesday, members of the KC Coalition for Reparations shared their vision for an official commission on Kansas City’s Special Committee for Legal Review. Their goal is that the commission is not only organized by the city, but also financed.

“This is something fairly new. The national redress movement has been around for quite some time. The local movement is fairly new,” said Mickey Dean, a member of the KC Reparations Coalition.

“Yes, there are councilors who serve on this body who lived at the time these laws were enacted, and it wasn’t that long ago,” said Melissa Robinson, councilor for the Third Circuit.

Robinson is sponsoring the proposal, in which the mayor’s office is also heavily involved. The first task of the Redress Commission, if created, would be to produce a historical document showing the city’s involvement in discriminatory laws.

“It’s no coincidence that almost every city in America has a black ghetto. It’s no coincidence,” said Robinson.

“And so we have to do more, and we don’t just have to think about whether we’re going to achieve parity, and we’re talking about, yes, applying things with a fair lens. We really need to be aware of the injury that has been inflicted on us.”

“Redress is very different from equity politics, and we have to consider the entire historical record,” Dean said.

“Where we are today, we are light years ahead of where we were 10 years ago. In the 2020 presidential election in the Democratic primary, you had candidates talking about HR 40, the national reparations law. That was unthinkable years ago,” said Dean.

The proposal will be returned to the Kansas City Legal Review Board in mid-January.

The mayor’s proposal for a ballot calling for a 3% city tax on recreational marijuana sold in Kansas City was withheld from Tuesday’s session. This item is also expected to return to the Committee’s agenda in January.

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