City Council in Asheville, North Carolina Calls for Reparations

Demand for reparations painted on a street in Richmond, Virginia, June 2020.

On July 14, Asheville, North Carolina City Council passed a resolution that apologized for the city's historic role in slavery and the discrimination and violation of rights of African Americans in the period that followed the end of slavery in 1863 to the present.[1] It also called for reparations in the form of investments in areas where Black residents face disparities (see full resolution below).

"Hundreds of years of Black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today," said Councilman Keith Young, an African American and the measure's chief proponent, who noted that simply removing statues is not enough.

Asheville City Council's resolution comes amidst the ongoing demands across the U.S. to end racial injustice, including thousands who protested in Asheville calling for redirecting funding for police toward social programs.

Reparations for slavery are a longstanding demand across the U.S. that is receiving renewed attention and impetus from the nationwide protests following the unjust police killing of George Floyd.

Resolution Supporting Community Reparations for Black Asheville

WHEREAS, Black People have been unjustly Enslaved; and

WHEREAS, Black People have been unjustly Segregated; and

WHEREAS, Black People have been unjustly Incarcerated; and

WHEREAS, Black People have been denied housing through racist practices in the private realty market, including redlining, steering, blockbusting, denial of mortgages, and gentrification; and

WHEREAS, Black People have been denied housing, displaced and inadequately housed by government housing policies that include discriminatory VA/FHA practices, Urban Renewal, and a variety of local and federal "affordable" housing programs; and

WHEREAS, Black People have been consistently and widely impoverished by discriminatory wages paid in every sector of the local economy regardless of credentials and experience; and

WHEREAS, Black People have experienced disproportionate unemployment rates and reduced opportunities to fully participate in the local job market; and

WHEREAS, Black People have been systematically excluded from historic and present private economic development and community investments and, therefore, black-owned businesses have not received the benefits of these investments; and

WHEREAS, Black People have been segregated from mainstream education and within present day school programs that include AG, AP, and Honors; and

WHEREAS, Black students have experienced the denial of education through admission, retention and graduation rates of every level of education in WNC and through discriminatory disciplinary practices; and

WHEREAS, Black People historically and presently receive inadequate, if not detrimental, health care as exemplified by disproportionate morbidities and mortality rates that result from the generational trauma of systemic racism, discriminatory treatment by medical professionals, and discriminatory medical practices such as involuntary sterilizations, denial of adequate testing, denial of preventative and curative procedures; and

WHEREAS, Black People have been unjustly targeted by law enforcement and criminal justice procedures, incarcerated at disproportionate rates and subsequently excluded from full participation in the benefits of citizenship that include voting, employment, housing and health care; and

WHEREAS, Black People have disproportionately been forced to reside in, adjacent to, or near Brown Zones and other toxic sites that negatively impact their health and property; and

WHEREAS, Black People have disproportionately been limited to the confined routes of travel provided by public transportation; and

WHEREAS, Black People have disproportionately suffered from the isolation of food deserts and childcare deserts;

WHEREAS, systemic racism was created over centuries and will take time to dismantle;

WHEREAS, state and federal governments have a responsibility to adopt programs, policies, and funding to address reparations;


The City Council of the City of Asheville:

(1) apologizes and makes amends for its participation in and sanctioning of the Enslavement of Black People;

(2) apologizes and makes amends for its enforcement of segregation and its accompanying discriminatory practices;

(3) apologizes and makes amends for carrying out an urban renewal program that destroyed multiple, successful black communities;

(4) calls on other organizations and institutions in Asheville that have advanced and benefitted from racial inequity to join the city in its apologies and invites them to address racism within their own structures and programs and to work with the city to more comprehensively address systemic racism;

(5) calls on the State of North Carolina and the federal government to initiate policymaking and provide funding for reparations at the state and national levels;

(6) directs the City Manager to establish a process within the next year to develop short, medium and long term recommendations to specifically address the creation of generational wealth and to boost economic mobility and opportunity in the black community;

(7) fully supports its equity department, staff and its work, and encourages the city manager to utilize their talents when forming policy and programs that will establish the creation of generational wealth and address reparations due in the black community as mentioned above;

(8) seeks to establish within the next year, a new commission empowered to make short, medium and long term recommendations that will make significant progress toward repairing the damage caused by public and private systemic Racism. Other local government community organizations may also be invited to have representation on the Commission. The task of the Community Reparations Commission is to issue a report in a timely manner for consideration by the City and other participating community groups for incorporation into their respective short and long term priorities and plans. Accountability for achieving equity will be enforced in the appropriate offices. The report and the resulting budgetary and programmatic priorities may include but not be limited to increasing minority homeownership and access to other affordable housing, increasing minority business ownership and career opportunities, strategies to grow equity and generational wealth, closing the gaps in health care, education, employment and pay, neighborhood safety and fairness within criminal justice;

(9) calls on the city manager to give, at minimum, a bi-annual update to the city council on the progress of work performed pursuant to this resolution.

Read, approved and adopted this 14th day of July, 2020.


1. Asheville is located in Buncombe County. According to 1860 census records, Buncombe County had 1,907 enslaved people who were "owned" by 283 enslavers, of whom 54 owned 10 or more enslaved people.

The number of enslaved people in North Carolina increased from 100,783 in 1790 to 351,059 in 1860, about one-third of the state's population. The percentage of population that was slaves varied by county. There were 19 counties in 1860 where the slave population was greater than the free white population in 1860. These counties were in agricultural areas producing cotton, tobacco, rice and naval stores and where larger plantations and farms existed in the coastal plains, Piedmont, and counties bordering Virginia.

Segregation was officially in practice until the 1960s for North Carolina's Indigenous peoples and 1970s for the Black population.

(With files from New York Times, Mountain Xpress, Wikipedia, Photo: Shots from Richmond)

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 27 - July 25, 2020

Article Link:
City Council in Asheville, North Carolina Calls for Reparations


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