A Dallas County Commissioner’s Court in Texas made a bold move on Tuesday towards repairing the racial divide and helping to mend the broken history of this country, and they didn’t even do it on purpose.
The Dallas Morning News reports that the commissioners voted for the “Juneteenth Resolution,” which was sponsored by the county’s only black commissioner, John Wiley Price. The other commissioners thought that they were voting to honor an annual holiday.
What they got, however, was a resolution that backed monetary reparations for African-Americans whose ancestors were slaves in the United States. Pierce even read the text, which covered broad topics like slavery and Jim Crow. The commissioners were uninterested, though, playing with computers or reading documents while Pierce read the text of the resolution. The other commissioners were so engrossed in what they were doing they didn’t notice the final sentence:
The United States of America is derelict in its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to the African American people. Be it further resolved that the dereliction that has caused 400 years of significant… suffering to the descendants of those who have been enslaved Africans who built this country, should be satisfied with monetary and substantial reparations to same.
The commissioners passed the motion unanimously.
After the vote, the commissioners claimed that they hadn’t known what they were voting for (playing on the computers and reading other documents likely didn’t help, guys. Just throwing that out there). Commission Mike Cantrell even changed his vote to “abstain” upon learning of the content of the Juneteenth Resolution. The other commissioners didn’t change their votes, but instead insisted that the resolution was ceremonial.
Commissioner Cantrell told The Dallas Observer that “I do not support reparations, and I do not support one of the statements he made, which was that the United States was derelict in his promise to African Americans. I think Commissioner Price went too far, and I can’t support that.” Cantrell added that:
I had no opportunity to review it, to see what was in the resolution. 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.
Juneteenth resolutions aren’t unusual in the south; the holiday celebrates the end of slavery by commemorating June 19, 1865, the day when abolition was announced in Texas.
You can watch the video below from the Dallas County Commissioner’s court, broadcast June 18, 2014.