Whether or not Boston will be doling out reparations appears to be a foregone conclusion and to determine what the final tab will be, Mayor Michelle Wu (D) announced a ten-member committee complete with a college student and two high school juniors.
In December, the Boston City Council voted unanimously to proceed on the matter of reparations, and on Tuesday Wu revealed who had been selected to present a recommendation come June 2024 “for truth, reconciliation and reparations addressing the City of Boston’s involvement with the African slave trade.”
As no surprise, the panel is set to be led by a former president of the Boston branch of the NAACP, Joseph D. Feaster Jr., and is filled with activists from academia and nonprofits.
Finding herself somewhere between those two, Wu had named Black Lives Matter organizer and University of Massachusetts student Carrie Mays, 22, a member alongside the equally surprising choices of Jeremiah E. Burke High School juniors Damani Williams and Denilson Fanfan.
The 10 members of the @CityOfBoston’s new #Reparations Task Force have been named. The committee will be chaired by Attorney Joseph Feaster, former head of the @BostonNAACP1911. @MayorWu says their work will be deep, painful & long overdue. pic.twitter.com/TNLt4KtfA2
— Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) February 7, 2023
What credentials the high schoolers have, or rather connections. other than attending school in “one of Boston’s most historically marginalized areas” remained unclear, but Mays was a different matter.
At 19 years old WGBH had done a profile featuring the young woman’s five years of involvement with the non-profit Teen Empowerment and following the summer of protests spurred by the death of George Floyd while in police custody.
“Me, my grandmother and my mother was pulling into the driveway from my godmother’s funeral and five cops held us at gunpoint out of mistaken identity because the description of the car was the same one as a robbery that was supposedly nearby,” she recounted to the outlet at the time. “From then on, I knew that this movement is just the epitome of all of us. And I am Black Lives Matter.”
Since then, she has continued her activism and filled her social media with posts like “Dear White-Washed school curriculum, teach Black History beyond slavery.”
Ahead of being named to the reparations panel, Mays had also been appointed to Boston’s newly created Civilian Review Board of Police Accountability in January.
To mark the occasion, she posted on Instagram: “I am so deeply humbled, honored and thankful to be given this revolutionary opportunity. I know my ancestors are proud of me. Boston has not had a police accountability like this in 100 years. Yes I said 100 years. Historically, youth have always been on the front lines and at the forefront of every political movement in America. From 1963 with the Children’s March of Birmingham which ignited de-segregation across the country, to today with the Black Lives Matters movement led by brave unapologetic black youth.”
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“So today marks history. I am history. You are history. We’re all walking manifestations of history. As Ayanna Pressley said, the people closest to the pain should be the closest to the power. So we will do just that.”
Almost a year earlier she had posted a video featuring a poem for Black History Month that she captioned “When you realize White supremacy is a personal attack on You and goes beyond the systemic, you realize self-love is an act of resistance. You realize untraditional education is an act of resistance. Knowledge is an act of resistance. LOVe is an act of resistance.”
In it, she suggested, “Your oppressors know who you are. So why don’t you?”
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At the announcement of the panel, which Mays attended wearing earrings that read “Young, gifted and black,” Wu said, “For four hundred years, the brutal practice of enslavement and recent policies like redlining, the busing crisis, and exclusion from city contracting have denied black Americans pathways to build generational wealth, secure stable housing, and live freely. Our administration remains committed to tackling longstanding racial inequities, and this task force is the next step in our commitment as a city to advance racial justice and build a Boston for everyone.”
The move out of Boston comes as California’s reparations panel eyes their June 2023 deadline for determining how much money the state might dole out, along with all sorts of freebies, and others have suggested that nothing short of $14 trillion spent nationwide would suffice.
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