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St. Paul Creates Commission to Offer Reparations to Residents

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The city of St. Paul, MO, recently announced that they’re set to form a permanent commission dedicated to reparations. 

According to a recent report by the Star Tribune, the City Council voted to instate the commission, known officially as the St. Paul Recovery Act Community Reparations Commission, on Wednesday. After reaching a unanimous decision, the group will work alongside the city government. It will adhere to a city code to ensure that the Black residents who had ancestors that were enslaved get reparations. 

Given a special set of powers, the commission will feature eleven members who will directly give their input on financial decisions to help build generational wealth amongst those affected in the city’s Black community. 

“When George Floyd was murdered in 2020, it became clear that all of us, in any position where we had any ability to make change, needed to make a real commitment to never go backwards,” said Jane Prince, a council member and sponsor of the group, per the Star Tribune. “By our actions, we are committing St. Paul to never go back — but to keep moving forward toward the vision of real racial justice.”

The official announcement of the reparations committee comes shortly after the announcement that potential reparations for the Rondo neighborhood are being considered. Announced in December, the St. Paul Housing Redevelopment Authority revealed that they’ll be meeting to plan a dedication of $2 million for the neighborhood. 

Once a bustling community, the majority of the neighborhood was a hub for Black-owned businesses and was home to many Black St. Paul residents. More than 700 of these businesses and homes were destroyed from the late 1950s to the early 1960s to make space for the creation of Interstate 94. Planned since the early 1920s, one of Interstate 94’s main purposes was to connect the Twin Cities for the ease of those who attended the University of Minnesota. 

Now, if the proposed $2 million gets approved for reparations, loans estimated as high as $100,000 will be handed to residents to help rebuild the Rondo neighborhood. 

“There are 700 families that lost their homes. Folks who lost their businesses, folks who lost real estate, whose family inheritance was gutted,” said the city’s mayor, Melvin Carter, per local outlet 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. “We’ve apologized, but our apologies won’t replace that wealth.

“They won’t replace those family inheritances that were taken,” he added.

Rondo is one of many neighborhoods to be affected by interstate construction; according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, over a million lives in more than 475,000 homes from majority Black neighborhoods were forced to move to make way for these highways. 

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