Dallas County In National Spotlight For Accidentally Approving Slavery Reparations | KERA News

Dallas County In National Spotlight For Accidentally Approving Slavery Reparations

Jun 20, 2014

News that the Dallas County Commissioners mistakenly agreed to pass a resolution calling for reparations for African-Americans on Tuesday is being talked about on websites and blogs nationwide – and even overseas.

Dallas County Commissioners approved slavery reparations at Tuesday's meeting, but many didn't realize what they were voting on.
Credit Dallas County Commissioners Court

What did the resolution say?

John Wiley Price, the county’s only black commissioner, wrote a Juneteenth resolution after being inspired by an article in The Atlantic written by Ta-Nehisi Coates about slave reparations.

Here’s the last part of Price’s statement, according to The Atlantic:

Therefore, be it resolved in the Dallas County Commissioners Court that Juneteenth and its historical mimicking of freedom is just that, and that 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.

Price read the resolution outloud during Tuesday’s meeting. Commissioners didn’t appear to be listening. While the proclamation is nonbinding – meaning no actual reparations will be made – commissioners passed it unanimously.

Commissioners didn’t read the resolution

Then, after the meeting adjourned, the other commissioners said they did not actually read the resolution.

Mike Cantrell, the only Republican commissioner on the court, later changed his vote from a “yes” to “absentee.”

“The reason why I didn’t abstain this morning is that I had not received a copy of the resolution,” he told The Dallas Morning News.

The other commissioners didn't change their votes.

Various sites have reported that Price said that it was an unintended mistake that the other commissioners didn’t get the written resolution. 

Now the rest of the commission is facing scrutiny all over the blogosphere for not having paid attention to Price’s resolution.

From Gawker to The Guardian

Adam Weinstein of Gawker grilled the commission for their mistake in a piece titled “Distracted White People Mistakenly Vote For Slavery Reparations:” “Dallas County, population 2.5 million, now officially stands for 'monetary and substantial reparations' for black Americans' suffering.”

An article in The Atlantic titled “How Dallas County Accidently Backed Reparations” poked fun at the commission’s apparent short attention span.

The commissioners also made Talking Points Memo. And The Guardian in Britain. And Wonkette. And Esquire.

Read before you vote, judge says

County Judge Clay Jenkins told The Dallas Morning News why he didn't change his vote.

“I am leaving my vote the way it is,” he said. “This is the body’s expression of support for unity towards people, a recognition of Juneteenth.”

But he added that in the future he wanted to encourage county staff to make sure the commissioners get to “actually read what they are voting on.”

Video

Watch the meeting here -- the Juneteenth resolution begins around the 20-minute mark.

Or watch this excerpt on YouTube: