The Dallas County Commissioners Court declared Tuesday that African-Americans deserve reparations for slavery, even though most commissioners didn’t seem to know that they were doing so.
The issue arose in a resolution written by John Wiley Price, the county’s only black commissioner. Described only as a “Juneteenth Resolution,” it was approved unanimously.
Other commissioners admitted after their meeting Tuesday that they hadn’t read the document before voting for it.
Commissioner Mike Cantrell, the court’s lone Republican, later changed his vote to an abstention.
“The reason why I didn’t abstain this morning is that I had not received a copy of the resolution,” he said.
None of the other commissioners changed their votes, meaning the resolution remains the county’s official position. It is, however, a nonbinding resolution, and no tax money will change hands as a result of its passage.
The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting gave no sign that reparations would be a topic. The “Juneteenth Resolution,” commemorating the day slaves in Texas learned of their freedom, seemed from its description to be just another routine proclamation. Others approved on Tuesday expressed support for Men’s Health Month — it’s June — the American Kidney Fund, and an employee in the tax office who’s been on the job for 25 years.
But Price’s resolution went beyond taking note of Juneteenth; it included a long list of injustices endured by blacks, from slavery to Jim Crow to predatory lending practices. Then, in its final paragraph, it declared that the suffering of African-Americans should be “satisfied with monetary and substantial reparations.”
Price read the entire document aloud at the meeting. But that happens with every resolution, and the commissioners didn’t seem to be listening with a critical ear. With no discussion, Price’s resolution was approved by voice vote.
But of course…
Then, about an hour later, the other commissioners complained that they hadn’t been given copies of the resolution before they voted. It wasn’t part of their meeting packet, they said. Nor was it posted on the county’s website. Price said in an interview that he didn’t know how that happened. He said he wrote the resolution after reading an article in The Atlantic making the case for reparations. Other ethnic groups, including American Indians and Japanese-Americans, have received compensation for past mistreatment, he noted.
“We are the only people who haven’t been compensated,” he said.
The other commissioners didn’t delve into the substance of the reparations debate. They simply expressed frustration at not seeing the resolution before the meeting.
“I am leaving my vote the way it is,” County Judge Clay Jenkins said. “This is the body’s expression of support for unity towards people, a recognition of Juneteenth.”
But, he added: “I want to encourage staff to make sure that all of the commissioners have the opportunity to actually read what they are voting on before that vote in the future.”
Nah, bruh, pony up that gwap!
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