Boston apologizes for the history of slavery and vows to promote equity and healing: NPR

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At a press conference outside the Christopher A. Iannera Chamber of Commerce, Boston City Council member Ruthzee Louijeune passes a resolution to Congress on June 15, 2022, to apologize for Boston’s role in the transatlantic slave trade. I request.

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At a press conference outside the Christopher A. Iannera Chamber of Commerce, Boston City Council member Ruthzee Louijeune passes a resolution to Congress on June 15, 2022, to apologize for Boston’s role in the transatlantic slave trade. I request.

Pat Greenhouse / Boston Globe via Getty Images

Boston — Boston became the first major city to offer a formal apology for its role in Atlantic slavery.

About four centuries have passed since slavery began here, City council resolution The peculiar “sneakyness” of slavery that passed unanimously on Wednesday and the “systematic white supremacist and racism” reflected in the ongoing racial inequality in housing, education, income, etc. Blame the heritage of. The city council makes a “deepest and sincere apology” and ” […] Death, misery, deprivation caused by slavery. “

The non-binding resolution removes “efforts to repair past and present harm done to black Americans”, the city’s “prominent anti-black symbol”, and how the slave trade affects Boston. We promise to increase public education about what we have done past and present suppression systems. “

This move is largely symbolic as it does not include funding for specific policies or programs and there is no alternative proposal to create a committee to study reparations. The measure was heard by the Boston City Council in March, but has not yet been voted on.

However, Councilor Tania Fernandez Anderson, who proposed a joint resolution to apologize, calls it the “Opening Salvo.” She said she was a enslaved African whose great personal and institutional wealth in Boston did not enjoy any financial benefits from labor before the city began discussing the implications of a true undo. It was built behind the “built behind”, he said. harm. “

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Boston City Council member Tania Fernandes Anderson at the Boston City Hall in Boston on June 15, 2022, at a press conference outside the Christopher A. Iannera Chamber of Commerce. Its role in the transatlantic slave trade.

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Boston City Council member Tania Fernandes Anderson at the Boston City Hall in Boston on June 15, 2022, at a press conference outside the Christopher A. Iannera Chamber of Commerce. Its role in the transatlantic slave trade.

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L’Merchie Frazier, director of education and interpretation at the African-American History Museum in Boston / Nantucket, also sees an apology as a first step.

“Apologies cannot regain life and cannot explain those who have been enslaved. […] She is sweating and tearing blood for the survival of others, “she said.

City councilman Frank Baker, one of Boston’s more conservative councilors, is “a little worried” about this measure because he personally feels “so far away” from the charges of slavery. I admitted that.

“The apology part is difficult for me,” he said. “But if my words help heal your community and heal our community in Boston, I’m definitely ready to do this.”

Proponents welcome a resolution that is especially important for cities that are still plagued by the reputation of racism. In a statement, Mayor Michelle Wu said that Boston was ” [its] There is “history that is not told too often”, and the city has “responsibility to condemn Boston’s role in the atrocities of slavery, and the lasting inequality that still exists today.”

Rev. Kevin Peterson, founder of the New Democratic Union and responsible for drafting and promoting the resolution, agrees that it is important to publicly acknowledge Boston’s past.Boston was recognized as a hub for the abolitionist movement in 2019.th The century, and because it is considered the “birthplace of freedom,” he says, “so many people. […] I don’t think slavery could have existed here. ”

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Rev. Kevin Peterson, Director of the New Democratic Union, was invited by Boston City Council member Lucy Louis Jeanne at a press conference outside the Boston City Hall of Christopher A. Iannera on June 15, 2022. Listen to speak.

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Rev. Kevin Peterson, Director of the New Democratic Union, was invited by Boston City Council member Lucy Louis Jeanne at a press conference outside the Boston City Hall of Christopher A. Iannera on June 15, 2022. Listen to speak.

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But Boston was actually a busy port for the slave trade with the West Indies and West Africa, starting with the voyage of ships. desire In 1637-1638, Native American prisoners of war began to be sold in the Caribbean in exchange for enslaved Africans and raw materials. According to SlaveVoyages, at least 175 transatlantic trips have begun in Boston. Online database..

According to Jarid Ross Hardesti, a professor of history at Western Washington University, quoted in the resolution, about a quarter of all white Boston citizens who acquired real estate inventory between 1700 and 1775 were enslaved. Owned people. At the peak of slavery in Boston in the mid-18th century, Hardesti estimates that more than 1,600 Africans were enslaved in Boston.

And while Massachusetts abolished slavery in 1783, Boston continued to be a part of slavery for decades, purchasing slavery goods and being used or consumed by slavery elsewhere. We sold products and agricultural products. In addition, the Federal Fugitive Slave Law stipulates that former slaves who lived in states where slavery was outlawed could be captured and returned to slavery.

Hundreds of local governments, state governments, universities and other institutions have proclamed, Less than 20 plaques and monuments to recognize or commemorate past racial violence and improperness (from slavery to isolation or, for example, to certain lynching acts) Local or state governments have offered a formal full apology for slavery, according to an African-American bailout network tracking such movements. (The number is expected to increase slightly as data collection is complete.)

“What Boston has done is very important,” said Justin Hansford, co-founder of AARN, professor of law at Howard University Law School, and executive director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center. .. “Many municipalities and states have placed markers to commemorate historic atrocities, [there are] Very few cases formally apologize for slavery. […] This idea that there you are in a hook for return.

“That’s a big problem,” says Hansford. “I want to apologize when someone harms me. I’m trying to rebuild my relationships, so there must be a genuine expression of regret.”

Indeed, official apologies must be the first step in the process, even if compensation is the ultimate goal. Model roadmap Developed by the National African-American Reservations Commission.

Peterson, who helped push Boston’s formal apology, hopes that it will not only “open the door” to a serious conversation about reparations, but that explicit approval of liability will enforce it. Is called. He also wants to see swift action as part of a resolution promising to remove “Boston’s prominent anti-black symbol.”

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Rev. Kevin Peterson, Director of the New Democratic Union, will speak at a press conference outside the Christopher A. Iannera Chamber of Commerce in Boston City Hall on June 15, 2022.

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Rev. Kevin Peterson, Director of the New Democratic Union, will speak at a press conference outside the Christopher A. Iannera Chamber of Commerce in Boston City Hall on June 15, 2022.

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“Faneuil Hall is the main target,” says Peterson, whose historic and landmark building has become a major tourist attraction and is named after 18-year-old Faneuil.th Century merchants, slave owners, traders luck Derived from his accomplice in the system of slavery.

Faneuil Hall is celebrated as a “freedom cradle” where Samuel Adams and other founding fathers met to plan the Boston Tea Party and other acts leading up to the American Revolutionary War, while Peterson named Faneuil. Called a “white paranormalist,” the name changed over the years, Hungry fast To make his claim. He says the formal apology for Boston’s slavery “symbolizes” the effort to change the name of “the worst expression of white supremacism in our symbol of the city of Boston.”

Boston apologizes for the history of slavery and vows to promote equity and healing: NPR

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