Special to the Sun
Mayor Michelle Wu on Tuesday announced the ten individuals that will serve on the newly formed Reparations Task Force, created to study the lasting impact of slavery in Boston. The formation of this task force follows Mayor Wu signing a 2022 City ordinance, sponsored and led by Councilor Julia Mejia and co-sponsored by Councilors Tania Fernandes Anderson and Brian Worrell, to study the impact of slavery in Boston. Mayor Wu joined members of the City Council, Reparations Task Force, and Equity and Inclusion Cabinet at the African Meeting House to announce the establishment of the task force.
“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,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “Our administration remains committed to tackling long standing 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. I’m grateful to the City Council, advocates and task force members for their critical work to strengthen our communities and ensure that Boston documents and addresses the historical harms of slavery and its continued impact on our Black residents.”
“As the lead sponsor of this ordinance, I want to thank Tanisha Sullivan of the NAACP for inviting our office to lead this effort and to Dr. Kamara and Yvette Modestin for their leadership in drafting the ordinance,” said Councilor Julia Mejia. “We are extremely proud of the work we did alongside the community and look forward to monitoring the processes moving forward”
“The forming of this reparations task force is an important step in the ongoing process of bringing justice to the Black community of Boston,” said Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson. “This is so both for the historical legacies of anti-Black racism going back to the enslavement of kidnapped Africans, to the current manifestations of structural and systemic white supremacy that are embedded and entrenched within the political and economic status quo.”
“This is a major step forward for the City of Boston,” said Councilor Brian Worrell. “I would like to thank the Mayor and my City Council colleagues for helping bring this important conversation to the top of the agenda. Since the late Senator Bill Owens began this journey, we are proud to now have a diverse group of people working towards a solution that will address past injustices in this City. As the representative of one of the most diverse districts in Boston, I look forward to bringing new opportunities to the district and fixing previous disenfranchising to build up what makes Boston diverse.”
The members of the task force are community leaders in law, academia, community organizing, and education and represent diversity in age, gender, and discipline to fully encompass the Black experience in Boston. The task force’s duties will include leading research on the historical impact of slavery in Boston and exploring ways the City can provide reparative justice for Black residents. Over the next 18 months, the task force members will convene and work on proposing recommendations to Mayor Wu for reparative solutions for the descendants of enslaved persons.
The individuals appointed to the task force include:
• Chair Joseph D. Feaster, Jr., Esq., Attorney, former President of the Boston branch of the NAACP, current member of City’s Black Men & Boys Commission
• Denilson Fanfan, 11th grader at Jeremiah E. Burke High School
• L’Merchie Frazier, Public historian, visual activist, and Executive Director of Creative and Strategic Partnerships for SPOKE Arts
• George “Chip” Greenidge, Jr., Founder and Director of Greatest MINDS
• Dr. Kerri Greenidge, Assistant Professor of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora at Tufts University
• Dr. David Harris, Past Managing Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice
• Dorothea Jones, Longtime civic organizer and member of the Roxbury Strategic Master Plan Oversight Committee
• Carrie Mays, UMass Boston student and youth leader with Teen Empowerment
• Na’tisha Mills, Program Manager for Embrace Boston
• Damani Williams, 11th grader at Jeremiah E. Burke High School
“I am honored to be asked by Mayor Wu to chair this Reparation Task Force and serve with such distinguished people,” said Joseph D. Feaster, Jr., Chair of Reparations Task Force. “We are looking forward to determining recommendations for how we reckon with Boston’s past while charting a path forward for Black people whose ancestors labored without compensation and who were promised the 40 acres and a mule they never received.”
The task force will be housed within the City of Boston’s Equity & Inclusion Cabinet and work closely with Lori Nelson, the City’s Senior Advisor on Racial Justice. In the coming weeks, the City and task force will launch a request for proposal (RFP) to select a research partner to study the legacy of slavery in Boston and produce a report on its impact. The results of the report will inform recommendations brought forth by the task force. For more information about the task force, visit boston.gov/reparations.
“This is a historic moment for Boston, for this nation,” said Mariangely Solis Cervera, Chief of Equity and Inclusion. “We are creating an opportunity to intentionally address harms of the past and embed racial equity into the fabric of our city. I am thankful for the leadership, expertise, and lived experience this task force brings to the table and I look forward to working beside them.”
“This important initiative will center the truth, acknowledgment, and reconciliation that history once ignored,” said Lori Nelson, Senior Advisor on Racial Justice. “The task force will give us the chance to fully engage and challenge policies that have harmed and marginalized Black people in Boston for generations. I am eager to collaborate with the task force with the goal of repairing and restoring injustice to move our city forward.”
This action builds on Mayor Wu’s work to acknowledge historic harms and build an equitable Boston for all. Last year, Mayor Wu established the Office of Black Male Advancement and the Commission of Black Men and Boys to create initiatives to improve outcomes for Black men and boys. The Office of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion has made strides to increase supplier diversity to include more businesses of color in City contracting and to close the racial wealth gap across the city.