Brown University students vote for reparations for slavery descendants

Undergraduates at the Ivy League school addressed the need to counter a history of racism

Students at Brown University overwhelmingly support reparations for descendants of enslaved people tied to the institution or the Brown family.

Read More: Catholic order agrees to $100 million in U.S. slavery reparations

According to NBC News, the undergraduate student body voted on two referendum questions last week during its annual election. One question asked should the Ivy League school make “all possible efforts to identify the descendants of enslaved Africans who were entangled with and/or afflicted by the University and Brown family and their associates.”

The second proposed the university issue reparations to those descendants. The first was approved with an 89% vote and the second with 85% in favor.

Brown University Campus
Image via Twitter @BrownUniverisy

Brian Clark, a university spokesperson, issued the following statement according to NBC:

“Confronting questions of reparations and institutional reckoning with connections to the transatlantic slave trade has a deep history at Brown. The University interrogated this issue as a full community from 2003 to 2006, and Brown committed to a series of actions whose impact persists in our education, research, engagement with historically underrepresented groups, and ongoing work in diversity, equity, and inclusion. The current work of Brown’s Task Force on Anti-Black Racism will make recommendations on more Brown can do to address the legacy of slavery.”

The outlet reported over 2,000 of Brown’s nearly 7,000 undergraduate voters cast ballots. Students supported reparations being issued in multiple methods. Some included were preferential admission for descendants of those enslaved, direct payments, and target investments in Black communities.

Reparations have been a controversial political subject for decades and have recently become a pressing issue as political leaders push to make amends.

As theGrio reported Evanston, Illinois became the first city in the United States to make reparations available to its Black residents for past discrimination and the lingering effects of slavery.

The Chicago suburb’s city council voted 8-1 to distribute $400K to eligible Black households. Each qualifying household would receive $25K for home repairs or down payments on property. The program is being funded through donations and revenue from a 3% tax on the sale of recreational marijuana. The city has pledged to distribute $10M over 10 years.

Alderman Rue Simmons, who proposed the program that was adopted in 2019, said pro-reparations groups have offered pro-bono legal assistance if the program is challenged in court.

Activist Groups Protest Against Senate Majority Leader McConnell On National Reparations Day
Activists stage a protest to mark the National Reparations Day outside the residence of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) July 1, 2019. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Cedric Richmond, a top aide to President Joe Biden revealed in March that the White House plans “to start acting now” on reparations for African-American citizens. He shared the news with journalist Mike Allen during an evening broadcast of Axios on HBO.

 The former Louisiana lawmaker explained to Allen that Biden remains consistent in his support of H.R. 40, the House of Representatives bill that received a Congressional hearing last month, that would look into the issue of reparations. 

Read More: Obama reveals ‘white resistance’ stopped him from pushing for reparations

“We have to start breaking down systemic racism and barriers that have held people of color back, and especially African-Americans who were enslaved,” Richmond explained. “We have to do stuff now to improve the plights, status, and future empowerment of Black people all around the country.”

This article contains additional reporting from the Associated Press and Blue Telusma.

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