BUSD Reparations Task Force
The system of enslaving Black people on American soil engrained race-based inequity in American society; and being so engrained, this inequity pervaded every aspect of daily American life and has persisted ever since the Thirteenth Amendment officially abolished slavery in 1865. It has manifested in a multitude of ways, including in race-based policies such as school segregation and redlining but also in the form of differences in literacy rates and home ownership. Multiple efforts have been made in the past 158 years to address this engrained inequity. In 1968, for instance, Berkeley USD became the first major school district to voluntarily desegregate its schools. This was a critical step and provided a roadmap for other districts to follow. Unfortunately, equitable outcomes for all African-American students in BUSD has not followed. It is time to explore enacting and implement a program of true reparations for BUSD students with ancestors who were enslaved in the U.S.
The need for reparations in response to the institution of U.S. slavery has existed for over 150 years but it has recently taken on increased public attention. A number of local jurisdictions are exploring reparations or have already instituted other types of reparations. The City of Berkeley recently launched an effort to explore reparations and Evanston, IL recently launched a reparations program aimed at providing financial assistance to African-American residents in response to historic discriminatory housing practices. At the national level, two of the most well-known examples of reparations are by the U.S. Government to Japanese-Americans, who were forcibly removed to concentration camps during World War II, and by the German Government to Holocaust survivors.
Community Push for the Task Force
After the murder of George Floyd, local community members started meeting to explore the possibility of reparations in BUSD. Members included: local civic and religious leaders, BUSD families, former BUSD Board members, and BUSD staff (on their personal time). The effort included research into existing examples of reparations, discussions of policy and legal considerations. The effort culminated in a community letter requesting that BUSD establish a Reparations Task Force.
Purpose of the Task Force
- How can BUSD fund reparations?
- What does reparations look like?
- How can and should BUSD implement such a program?
The District has selected Kad Smith to serve as the facilitator of the Task Force. Mr. Smith previously served as the Project Director at CompassPoint (www.compasspoint.org), a leadership development practice based in Oakland that “helps leaders, nonprofit organizations, and movements committed to social justice realize their full power.” He also previously served as the co-chair of Measure Y1 (Youth Voting). Mr. Smith is a BHS alumni who has gone back to school and is now enrolled at USF Law School.
Composition of the Task Force: 18 Members (Updated)
- 5 BUSD Staff
- 3 BUSD Students
- 10 Community Members
Members are expected to attend and participate fully in each meeting. No additional obligations are expected, although additional meeting prep/support is welcome. One or two members would be asked to serve as chair/co-chairs and they would be expected to attend prep meetings with the facilitator in advance of every meeting and they would be expected to participate in any presentation to the School Board.
Meeting Calendar and Information
All meetings will be held from 6:00pm to 9:00pm on the following tentative dates:
|Thursday, March 30, 2023
|Monday, April 24, 2023||Agenda/Presentation|
|Monday, May 22, 2023||Agenda/Presentation|
|Thursday, June 29, 2023|
|Monday, August 28, 2023|
|Thursday, September 28, 2023|
|Monday, October 23, 2023|
|Monday, November 27, 2023|