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Committee focused on reparations for Black families in Amherst looks to achieve racial equity

Two women from a walking tour, which highlighted Black and Indigenous families in Amherst, Massachusetts, observing photos in the Ancestral exhibit at the Amherst History Museum in June 2022.
Anika Lopes
/
Submitted
Two women from a walking tour, which highlighted Black and Indigenous families in Amherst, Massachusetts, observing photos in the Ancestral exhibit at the Amherst History Museum in June 2022.

The leader of an effort in Amherst, Massachusetts, focused on reparations for residents of African heritage says it's on track to complete its work next year.

This past June, the Amherst Town Council approved placing $2 million over ten years into an account to pay reparations.

Amherst leaders had already appointed a committee, the African Heritage Reparations Assembly, to develop proposals for distributing them. The committee's mission is to affirm the town's "commitment to end structural racism and achieve racial equity for Black residents.”

Town Councilor Michele Miller, who heads the group, said the focus in the coming months will be to "get out and really speak to residents of African heritage, understand what their experience is living in Amherst as a Black person, and what...they feel would be healing and be reparative."

Miller said the funds could be used to pay for community benefits centered on education and individual benefits like a scholarship or a down payment on a house.

She said the town would need state approval to move forward with the payouts. The committee's recommendations are due to the town council next June.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.