Members chosen for Northampton’s new reparations commission
NORTHAMPTON — City Council President Jim Nash announced the 11 members selected to the city’s joint mayoral City Council commission to investigate racialized harms perpetrated against Black residents and workers over the course of Northampton’s history.
According to Nash, the new commission drew considerable buzz, as 31 people applied to be a part of the group, and 20 of them were interviewed before narrowing the number down to 11.
“The range of talents, skills, and experiences was inspiring and made for difficult decisions by the interview team,” Nash said.
The chosen members, which were announced during the July 13 council meeting, include Ward 4 City Councilor Garrick Perry, at-large City Councilor Marissa Elkins, Felicia Lundquist, Renika Montgomery-Tamakloe, William Newman, Marsha Morris, Alton McCray, Sarah Lynn Patterson, Ousmane Power-Greene, Jeremy Baker-Parquette and Rachel Naismith.
The members were chosen with the help of an Appointment Committee consisting of Nash, Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra, At-Large City Councilor Jamila Gore, Elkins and Perry.
McCray is a liaison for the city’s Human Rights Commission, while Baker-Parquette is a liaison for the Northampton Youth Commission, according to Nash.
Elkins and Perry were two of the original sponsors of a resolution that created this commission back in February. The resolution asks that the commission consider what initiatives the city could fund and implement to support redress and fair treatment for Black people who live, work and learn in this community and examine ways to restore, grow and nourish Black community and culture in Northampton for future generations.
The document also asks that at least 50% of the commission feature Black participants. According to Nash, eight out of the 11 chosen are Black Northampton residents, which means that goal is met. Patterson, an assistant professor within the University of Massachusetts English Department, was one of the founding members of the Northampton Reparations Committee, a seven-member committee that advocated for this commission over the past several months.