(CBS DETROIT) – Detroit City Council Speaker Mary Sheffield is leading the charge to repair systemic disadvantages against Black residents through a repair initiative with housing and economic development programs.

“The evidence of this systemic racism is still present today,” Sheffield said.

“The case for reparations can be based on economic, social and moral grounds.”

On Friday, Sheffield made the announcement pushing for the atonement through a task force designed to investigate best practice.

“Pay back the descendants of Black Bottom for the assets that were destroyed,” said the Rev. Joann Watson, a member of the Reparations Task Force Executive Committee.

“Pay Detroiters who have been overpriced on water rates, forced to pay retail rates for water, while suburban customers pay wholesale rates for water. We need to pay back the billions of dollars that have been stolen of Detroit Public Schools. We need to pay city retirees who had their pensions reduced during illegal bankruptcies.”

The 13-member committee consists of four Sheffield nominees to the executive team. The city council nominated and voted out the remaining nine members.

The task force will develop strategies to rectify decades of systemic discrimination against black residents, including redlining.

“Especially between the 1930s and the 1960s, when regentrification labeled Black Bottom an urban slum so they could use urban renewal money to create, get federal dollars, create a freeway system that ultimately replaced Black Bottom,” he said. the co-chair of the working group, Keith Williams. .

“But the biggest thing Black people lost is wealth through these racist practices that have stunted economic growth for generations and generations.”

Sheffield says Detroit will closely follow the city of Evanston, Illinois, where officials allocated $10 million in repairs for housing grants.

I want to put this in perspective for everyone, for whites, for blacks, to understand why there is such a huge wealth gap in our community between blacks, between whites,” said New Era Detroit’s Ned Zeek.

“I said from 1492 to 1865, that 12 and a half generations of wealth was built in this country by free black labor.”

Sheffield says the fight for reparations could be a long battle, but the task force will help supporters move one step closer to creating solutions.


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