Dallas Commissioners Accidentally Approve Slavery Reparations
DALLAS (CN) - The Dallas County Commissioners Court on Tuesday accidentally passed a resolution that African Americans should be paid reparations for slavery - several commissioners appeared to not be paying attention to the details of what they were voting on.
The vote took place Tuesday morning on a nonbinding resolution by Commissioner John Wiley Price - the only black commissioner on the court.
Titled "Juneteenth Resolution," the details of the resolution were not included in the meeting's agenda beforehand, which had no mention of reparations.
Juneteenth commemorates the abolition of slavery in Texas in June 1865, when Union soldiers first enforced the Emancipation Proclamation of two years earlier.
Before the five-member court voted, Price read aloud the resolution in its entirety. Price spoke at length about hardships endured by blacks throughout American history, from slavery to modern day issues such as income inequality and predatory lending. He concluded the resolution by saying, "the descendants of those who have been enslaved Africans who built this country should be satisfied with monetary and substantial reparations to same."
Immediately after Price stopped speaking, the resolution was seconded and unanimously approved by voice vote, with no additional discussion.
About an hour later, the other commissioners realized what they had approved and complained that they had not been given copies of the full resolution beforehand, the Dallas Morning News reported. They said the full resolution was not part of the meeting packet, nor posted on the county website.
Price said he does not know how that happened. He told the newspaper he wrote the resolution after reading an article in The Atlantic making the case for reparations.
"We are the only people who haven't been compensated," he said, noting that other groups - such as Native Americans and Japanese-Americans - have been compensated for mistreatment.
Commissioner Mike Cantrell later changed his vote to abstain, telling the Dallas Observer he does not support reparations and that Price "went too far."
"I had no opportunity to review it, to see what was in the resolution," Cantrell said. "As Commissioner Price was reading this I was trying to find a copy because it sounded like he was going way over what he typically does."
The remaining three commissioners did not change their votes, but County Judge Clay Jenkins urged county staffers to make sure the full commissioners court "have the opportunity to actually read what they are voting on" in the future.