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City Council Passes Resolution that Apologizes for Boston's Role in Slavery

During this week’s Council meeting, the Council adopted a resolution with a unanimous vote to acknowledge, condemn and apologize for the role played by the City of Boston in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the ongoing detrimental impacts experienced by the Black people of Boston.

“When harm is done, the first step is to acknowledge the harm and apologize for it. The fact that this hasn’t been done yet at the municipal level is stunning to me,” said Councilor Fernandes Anderson, who offered the resolution.

Boston was likely an initial site used for the importation of enslaved Africans on February 26th, 1638, reportedly arriving on a ship returning from the Caribbean named the Desire. After docking, the enslaved Africans were forced to live lives of servitude, separated from their homeland, families, languages, and customs.

The developing economy of Boston was dependent upon the importation of enslaved Africans and the number of enslaved Africans living in Boston increased 350 percent between 1704 and 1752.

The legacy of slavery is connected to present-day trauma and economic, political, social and racial disparities in Boston and across the United States.

The resolution states that the Council’s adoption denounces the historical practices of

slavery aided and abetted by the city government of Boston and

1) Expresses its deepest and most sincere apology for the city’s connection and responsibility in the transatlantic slave trade, the death, misery, and deprivation that this practice caused; and commits towards actions that include the following:

  • a) A pledge of removing prominent anti-Black symbols in Boston while developing opportunities to build structures that reflect racial repair and reconciliation
  • b) Pledge to elucidate and educate Bostonians on the history of the transatlantic slave trade and the ways it occurred and impacted Boston’s past and present systems of oppression
  • c) Commit to creating a registry of truth and reconciliation so that Bostonians who wish to express regret for past injustices can express their remorse
  • d) Vow to dedicate policies and efforts to repair past and present harm done to Black Americans via systemic racism in various realms of city life, including housing, healthcare, education, and the workplace
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