The Saint Paul City Council is accepting applications from now through March 24 for membership on a newly created commission that will explore reparations that could be made to Black city residents whose ancestors were slaves.
The 11-member Saint Paul Recovery Act Community Reparations Commission will serve as an advisory body to the mayor and council. It will be tasked with studying the disparities between Blacks and other racial groups in the areas of homeownership, generational wealth, education, employment, health care and criminal justice.
“Born and raised in Rondo and now council member to the neighborhood, I’m thrilled to have our city lead in racial equity and positive change for our community,” said Russel Balenger. “This is one of the most important initiatives I’ve seen in my lifetime.”
The City Council established an exploratory task force in 2021 that released its final report and recommendations in 2022. Those efforts culminated in the council establishing the reparations commission on January 4 via an ordinance, which took effect on February 13.
“Work on this commission holds the promise of changing the way we confront racial inequality in Saint Paul,” said council member Jane Prince. “People should apply to serve who are committed to building real racial healing and justice in Saint Paul.”
Diverse membership sought
The council intends to appoint commissioners who represent diverse perspectives. The initial round of appointments will feature a staggered start, with three one-year, four two-year and four three-year terms. All subsequent appointments will be for three years. The commission will meet at least monthly.
The council expects to announce the appointments in May, with the commission beginning its work in June. To learn more about the work of the commission, visit tinyurl.com/reparationscommission.
— Jane McClure
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