Austin Metropolis Council has formally apologized for its position in perpetuating racist insurance policies that contributed to historic fairness, well being and wealth gaps that persist for Black Austinites.

A decision, which handed unanimously Thursday, directs town to quantify the impression of systemic racism in actual {dollars} and spend money on an effort to construct a Black “embassy” in East Austin to function a useful resource heart for Black residents.

Mayor Professional Tem Natasha Harper-Madison, who led the hassle on Council to move the decision, stated whereas the measure is symbolic, it’s an essential step in addressing town’s racist previous. Shortly earlier than the vote, Harper-Madison stated she hopes the decision will extra tangibly deal with what she referred to as a “chasm of inequality, of inequity” between Black and white Austinites.

“I need to be sure that we don’t simply accept phrases, that we demand actions,” she stated. “Justice calls for actions.”

The decision acknowledges Austin’s failures all through historical past, highlighting town’s position in propagating slavery in its earliest days; its help of city renewal and improvement efforts that displaced Black communities all through the twentieth century; and its present-day struggles to deal with disparities in well being and wealth impacting the Black neighborhood.

The decision additionally instantly acknowledges the impression of town’s 1928 Grasp Plan and Jim Crow-era segregation. Metropolis Corridor has beforehand acknowledged that impact, however advocates have argued these efforts have been symbolic and did not result in any aid, restitution or assets for Black Austinites.

The 1928 plan broke up at the least 17 Black-led Freedom Communities throughout town, seized the land for improvement and compelled Black Austinites right into a so-called Negro District in East Austin. The plan successfully stunted Black residents’ means to create generational wealth by legally segregating town’s Black inhabitants throughout what’s now Interstate 35.

Nook Turner, a rapper and member of the Black Austin Coalition, ran level on the community-led effort to get the decision to the dais at Metropolis Corridor. A local East Austinite, Turner organized the coalition late final yr and helped draft the decision together with Yasmine Smith of the Austin Space City League.

Turner stated he hopes the decision results in basic change inside his neighborhood in East Austin — a traditionally Black neighborhood the place the Black inhabitants has been decimated due to city renewal and gentrification in current a long time.

He stated the decision’s plan for an embassy – a city-backed heart that will goal to supply well being assets, foster progress and creation of Black-owned companies and function a cultural hub in East Austin – will go a great distance towards addressing and reversing long-standing inequalities.

Austin is the one main metropolis within the U.S. that hasn’t seen growth amongst its Black inhabitants regardless of a growth in general inhabitants within the final decade. White Austinites earn double the median income of Black and Latino Austinites. Between 2000 and 2010, the Black inhabitants within the space round twelfth and Chicon streets dropped by 60 %.

“Blacks have to have the ability to have a chance as Blacks to take pleasure in the identical high quality of life that Austin boasts about and that makes this such an ideal metropolis,” Turner stated. “So we stand behind this decision. We stand behind anyone that wishes to … work with us to be sure that we see a future (that’s) higher for our youngsters.”

The decision additionally directs town supervisor’s workplace to accomplice with Huston-Tillotson College and UT Austin’s LBJ College of Public Affairs to quantify the “direct, oblique, intentional, and unintentional hurt brought on by financial, well being, environmental, prison injustice, and different racial disparities” on account of town’s motion, or inaction.

Turner and others hope that greenback quantity might end in monetary restitution for financial losses confronted by the Black neighborhood in Austin – restitution that will finally be invested into the embassy and into the neighborhood.

Metropolis Supervisor Spencer Cronk is predicted to report again to Metropolis Council with a report on how greatest to implement the plan by Aug. 1.

This story was produced as a part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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