Greenbelt voters approve new committee to study reparations

Voters in Greenbelt, Maryland, have approved a referendum that would create a 21-member commission to study the feasibility of reparations for the city’s African American and Native American residents.

Council members had backed the resolution’s inclusion on Tuesday’s ballot in a 5-1 vote during an August meeting. Official results as of Wednesday morning showed the resolution passing with 1,522 residents in favor and around 910 against.

With its approval, the council will form a commission that will investigate what reparations would entail, who would be eligible and whether the city is capable of fulfilling them on its own.

Old Greenbelt was a planned community created under President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of the New Deal to provide work and affordable homes. But after helping to build the city, African Americans were prohibited from buying homes there. The city has grown to 23,000 residents, with nearly 47 percent identifying as Black or African American, according to census data.

“The story of Greenbelt is the story of America, in many ways. From day one, African Americans were excluded from residency in the city, but, at the same, Black workers were involved heavily in building this city,” Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd told WTOP’s news partners at NBC Washington.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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