The St. Louis Reparations Commission says area residents have recommended payments to the descendants of enslaved Africans — including the ability to trace lineage back (a particular number of years) — for payments of $25,000.
Edited by Jake Maxwell
Dr. Will Ross, the commission’s vice-chair, said meetings will continue until the end of December. The commission will then put together its final report, and should be sending it to both St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones and the St. Louis Board of Aldermen by January of 2024.
“We’re not going to move our city forward until we have some healing, and that racial healing means we have to afford the resources. There has to be some allocations of resources to address the harm that’s been done for decades … centuries in St. Louis,” Ross stated.
Through working as an associate dean for diversity at Washington University’s School of Medicine. and as alumni-endowed professor of medicine in the division of nephrology, Ross stated he discovered more inequalities African Americans face.
“There’s a major discrepancy between the income of African Americans and others,” Ross said. Because of this significant disparity in economic resources, he said it would be hard for the commission to define the scope of the payments.
So far, Ross said residents have recommended reparations including the ability to trace lineage (a certain number of years) for payments of $25,000. “We’re still gathering data, looking at practices across the country and haven’t defined what reparations will really mean,” he said.
Ross believes it’s likely that reparations will be provided in St. Louis … “We’ve watched the national landscape. Some communities have started and they are far along.”
Ross added, “Some have moved further, some communities have floundered.”
Ross held numerous meetings during the summer, where dozens of residents continued voicing concerns. One such resident was James Gallagher from Mill Creek, MO, who said his family had endured exposure to toxic chemicals.
“I’m the last member of my family and the patriarch of my family on both sides. It’s just nothing you can make up because the damage is done,” Gallagher mused.
Ross expressed his confidence that the city could make reparations happen, while watching the examples of cities in Illinois and California, where the legislation has already been passed and is being implemented.
Ross added, “We’re going to continue to meet until the end of December. The commission will come together in January for a final report.”
Reporter Diamond Palmer wrote the original version of this article.