PROVIDENCE – Mayor Jorge Elorza on Wednesday signed an executive order to pursue a “truth-telling and reparations process” in the city, although exactly what form the reparations will take is yet to be determined.
“Today’s announcement is a commitment that we’re making to a process,” Elorza said during a press conference at Dexter Training Ground, a green space adjacent to the Cranston Street Armory where the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, the first African American company from Rhode Island to serve in the Civil War, trained and camped.
The process, he said, will start with members of his administration and a group of African American advisers meeting with historical societies and researchers to come up with a plan for sharing the state’s role throughout history in the institution of slavery, genocide of Indigenous people, forced assimilation and seizure of land. The history could be shared through methods such as exhibitions, community conversations and guest speakers, he said.
City leaders will also review local and state laws as part of this process, particularly those that result in discrimination against Black and Indigenous people in the public and private sectors, according to the city.
The city will then engage in a broad community conversation on the state’s history and the ways in which historical injustices and systemic racism continue to impact society today.
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Determining what form reparations will take will be the last step of the process.
The mayor’s African American Ambassador Group, an ad hoc collective of around 100 African American leaders from the community, will advise the process throughout.
“What we’re doing here together is truly something historic,” Elorza said. “But most importantly, it comes directly from the voice of our Black community.”
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