The Philadelphia City Council released new details about the city’s reparations task force Friday, calling on Black residents to apply to join the effort.
The task force will “study and develop reparations proposals and programs for Black Philadelphians whose ancestors endured chattel slavery and Jim Crow in the United States,” according to the office of councilmember Jamie Gauthier, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Gauthier co-authored the legislation that led to the creation of the task force, which is set to launch in February.
The task force will consist of 10 volunteer members, including leaders of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. The remaining eight seats will include the roles of economic justice coordinator and health and wellness coordinator.
In order to qualify for the task force, board members must have lived in Philadelphia for at least 10 years and be “descendants of enslaved Africans in the United States, the descendants of Black, Negro, or Colored Americans since 1865, and/or the descendants of Freedmen emancipated from slavery,” according to Gauthier’s office.
“For generations after the Civil War, General Order No. 3, and the 14th Amendment, lawmakers right here in Philadelphia and across the nation enacted and encouraged policies that subjugated Black residents to second-class citizenship,” Gauthier said at a news conference in City Hall, The Inquirer reported. “While there is no way to truly eradicate past wrongs, the task force will recommend concrete steps, financial and otherwise, the city state and federal government can take to eradicate the lingering chokehold American slavery has on society.”
The lawmaker said the task force could produce recommendations for different types of reparations, including cash payments to descendants of enslaved people, criminal justice reform measures or housing subsidies.
Gauthier’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some critics say giving reparations doesn’t make sense as America grows more diverse.
“That logic becomes much harder to sustain when you have large groups of recent immigrants who are very obviously not implicated in historical injustice and who are also themselves often systematically disadvantaged,” Manhattan Institute fellow Charles Fain Lehman, who conducted the study, told Fox News Digital. “Asking those people to take responsibility for injustices 150 years ago is not something they are necessarily willing to swallow.”
Because many Americans did not have ancestors living in the U.S. in the slavery era, Lehman said he believes it is unjust to ask descendants of post-Civil War immigrants to foot the reparations bill and “with each passing year, immigration further shrinks the population share plausibly eligible to pay a debt for slavery.”
Lehman said, based on a variety of estimates about how much reparations should be, the price tag ranges from $12.9 trillion on the low end, which works out to $360,000–$430,000 per person, to $53.3 trillion on the highest end, which works out to $1.48–$1.78 million per person.
Reparations have also been proposed or are expected to be implemented in multiple California cities; Fulton County, Georgia; Shelby County, Tennessee; Boston; Detroit; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Durham, North Carolina.
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