June 10, 2022
This afternoon, a coalition of over 25 local community organizations released a proposal calling for a process and plan for reparations in the City of St. Louis. The proposal references St. Louis’ history of chattel slavery, racial exclusion from homeownership, inequitable education, environmental racism, and mass incarceration as some of the many forces that have shaped the racial disparities existing for Black St. Louisans today. It also lists various models and examples of reparations, both in the United States and abroad, for harms suffered as a result of state oppression.
A link to the full statement and proposal can be found here.
The organizations initially delivered this proposal to members of the Jones administration in December of 2021. Since then, there have been several local developments related to reparations, including: passage of legislation introduced by Alderman Brandon Bosley to establish a Reparations Fund in the city; statements by Mayor Tishaura Jones that the fund represented a “first step” toward a robust process of reparations; and a Rally for Reparations by the Uhuru Solidarity Movement in March. The organizations also noted the encouraging step taken by Mayor Jones one year ago to become a founding member of Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity (MORE).
In releasing its proposal today, the coalition noted, “While this coalition has continued to advocate for reparations since delivering the following memo nearly six months ago, we now wish to share the proposal publicly in order to contribute to the conversation on this critical subject.”
The organizations specifically propose “[e]stablishing a community-driven commission to determine the size, scope, and impact of racial oppression, exclusion, occupation, and economic divestment on communities in the City of St. Louis.” They also suggest that such a commission build on recent scholarship that has “helped to shed light on the unique role that St. Louis has played in both the development of racially exploitative practices and structures, and the emergence of resistance movements in the face of such exploitation, including Mapping Decline by Colin Gordon, the Missouri History Museum’s exhibition “#1 in Civil Rights: The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis,” and The Broken Heart of America: St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States by Walter Johnson. The organizations further propose that the reparations commission be “made up of researchers and community stakeholders from various fields, including historians, archivists, curators, social, political, and data analysts, economists, community organizers/advocates, legal experts, and more.”
The coalition’s reparations proposal builds on the People’s Plan, a comprehensive policy agenda for the City of St. Louis first released in January of 2021. The People’s Plan is organized around four pillars—Making St. Louis Home, Funding Our Future, Building Inclusive Democracy, and Re-envisioning Public Safety—and has been endorsed by more than 50 local, regional, and statewide organizations. As part of the Making St. Louis Home platform, the People’s Plan includes a demand to “Create and sustainably fund a reparations plan to address the multigenerational harms of racial and economic exclusion, redlining, mass Black removal, and state violence that fueled divestment from North St. Louis City.”
As a next step, the coalition will co-host a reparations-focused Juneteenth Cookout Saturday, June 18 10:00am to 2:00pm. The Cookout will be hosted by St. John’s UCC – The Beloved Community at 4138 N. Grand Blvd. It will include a reparations teach-in and feature an appearance by Congresswoman Cori Bush from 10:00am to 11:00am. Together, Congresswoman Bush and representatives from the local coalition will be speaking about their commitment to reparations at both local and federal levels.
The coalition behind the reparations proposal is made up of the following organizations:
Action St. Louis
MO Jobs with Justice
Faith For Justice
Freedom Arts and Education Center
St. Louis University Law Clinics
Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center
Freedom Community Center
Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council
Ecumenical Leadership Council
Mound City Bar Association
American Civil Liberties Union-MO
St. Louis Reentry Collective
Organization for Black Struggle
MO Sierra Club
SEIU MO/KS State Council
Homes For All
Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression
Black Men Build
Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice
Reparative Justice Coalition
Missouri Voter Protection Coalition
Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
Parents United for Change – COFI (IL)
Z Gorley, Communications Director, ArchCity Defenders