Civil rights activists unanimously vote to present reparations resolution to Maryland officials

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(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) — 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.”

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.

Some cities and states are aiming to gain reparations for Black residents, notably California. The state’s reparations task force, held its final meeting last month, placing its recommendations into the hands of the state legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

While reparations are popular among Black people, it’s not among white people, according to the Pew Research Center. Last year it found that 77% of Black Americans support the action, compared to 18% of white Americans.

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.

“I didn’t even intend to call the question of reparations in my local government when I became an alderperson,” Simmons said. “I was really running to just change the life circumstances of the Black community, the Black experience — make sure that our neighborhood had the same access to everything, livability, quality of life, and opportunities as the rest of Evanston, which we did not have, although we are highly celebrated for our diversity, equity and inclusion and all of these things.”

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.”

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