Town of Amherst hears from residents on reparations for Black residents

Hampshire County

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The town of Amherst heard from residents as the town votes on whether to provide reparations for the Black community there.

People in favor of this compensation want complete transparency in knowing where the funding would come from.

“And your actions will lay the foundation for our community to begin a collaborative healing process,” said Michelle Miller, co-founder of Reparations for Amherst.

It’s a conversation being debated held across the country and here in Western Massachusetts, whether federal and local government should compensate the descendants of former slaves and all Black Americans. Amherst joins several municipalities across the U.S. considering reparations for the town’s Black community.

“Amherst will become a reason for other communities and our federal government to take long overdue action,” Miller told 22News.

Some Amherst residents calling for transparency in funding.

Irv Rhodes of Amherst told 22News, “In order to support reparations, we need to identify funds that are sustainable, reliable, and consistent over time.”

22News spoke with one person who said if reparations were proposed in their town, they would like to learn more about it and how it would be funded.

“We don’t understand what people of color are up against. It would have to be something that would achieve the objective and not just throw money at something. In theory, I favor exploring the idea, but I would all depend on how its structured,” said Chris O’Brien of Belchertown.

If passed, the town council’s financial committee is recommending more than $200,000 as an initial investment for the reparations fund. Town officials want the fund managed much like an endowment, with a professional consultant managing the investments. The town has considered using marijuana sales tax revenues to fund reparation efforts.

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