Greenbelt voters will decide on reparations-related referendum

While voters in Virginia are headed to the polls to elect a new governor, in Greenbelt, Maryland, voters are weighing a referendum concerning reparations.

Greenbelt voters Tuesday will decide whether they want the city council to create a 21-member commission to review reparations for both African Americans and Native Americans in the city.

“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 news partner NBC Washington.

In August, the Greenbelt city council approved putting the referendum on the ballot.

Council member Judith Davis, speaking about the referendum, said, “It is letting our residents weigh in on this issue. It’s not going to be just the council. I think I want to hear as a council member what our residents feel about this.”

“I think that this should be a federal issue and not a city issue,” said Council member Silke Pope. “For our 23,000 people in Greenbelt, I think it’s too much to take on to do all the necessary research that needs to be done … there’s so much research and staff that we need to really get to the bottom of who is eligible, and it needs to be very detailed and fair.”

Pope was the sole council member who voted against putting the referendum on the ballot.

If passed, the commission would see if reparations would be feasible and present those findings to the council.

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