Dallas County accidentally backs reparations
Stephon Johnson | 6/26/2014, 5:47 p.m.
It was a mistake … but it was well executed.
During a meeting of the Dallas County Commissioners Court last Tuesday, officials voted on an item called the “Juneteenth Resolution,” in reference to the annual commemoration of the day U.S. soldiers arrived in Texas to free slaves after the end of the Civil War (June 19, 1865). The only Black commissioner, John Wiley Price, submitted the resolution. The resolution eventually came up for a voice vote and was passed unanimously.
But Price’s resolution talked addressed more than Juneteenth. Price’s resolution addressed everything from the injustices of slavery to Jim Crow laws to predatory lending practices that Blacks have been subjected to.
The final paragraph of the provision, which most of the commissioners overlooked, revealed one more thing.
“Therefore, be it resolved in the Dallas County Commissioners Court that Juneteenth and its historical mimicking of freedom is just that, and that the United States of America is derelict in its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to the African-American people,” it read. “Be it further resolved that the dereliction that has caused 400 years of significant [inaudible] to millions and significant suffering to the descendants of those who have been enslaved Africans who built this country, should be satisfied with monetary and substantial reparations to same.’”
Dallas County had unwittingly advocated for reparations for Blacks.
Price also read the entire resolution out loud, but commissioners seemed to not hear him. Later on, they complained about not being given copies of the resolution before they voted on it. They also complained of the resolution not being up on the Commissioners Court’s website and that it wasn’t part of their meeting packet.
Price told a local news station that he was inspired by the recent cover story in The Atlantic, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, that presented a case for reparations for African-Americans. Price told the Dallas Morning News that other groups, such as Native Americans and Japanese-Americans, have been compensated for past wrongs.
“We are the only ones that haven’t been compensated,” Price said.
The only Republican on the court, Commissioner Mike Cantrell, later changed his vote to an abstention and also told the Dallas Morning News, “The reason why I didn’t abstain this morning is that I had not received a copy of the resolution.”
Others, like County Judge Clay Jenkins, kept their vote as a show of solidarity with others over the celebration of Juneteenth. He did advise everyone to read the resolutions next time.