African Heritage Reparations Assembly Launches Outreach Effort
Report On The Meeting Of The African Heritage Reparations Assembly, October 3, 2022
This meeting was held over Zoom and was recorded
Michele Miller (Chair), Irv Rhodes, Amilcar Shabazz, Yvonne Mendez, Hala Lord, and Debora Bridges. Absent: Alexis Reed.
Staff: Pamela Young (Director of Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion)
Two Listening Sessions Planned
Amilcar Shabazz announced that the Black Assembly of Amherst (BAAM) will hold a listening session for those identifying as being of Black heritage on Saturday, October 8 from 1-2:30 p.m. in the New Africa House on Infirmary Way at UMass. Participation by Zoom is also possible. Those interested should contact Shabazz at Amilcarshabazz@gmail.com.
The AHRA is planning a listening session open to all residents at the Hitchcock Center on Thursday, October 27 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The PVTA will provide transportation to and from the event, and childcare will also be available. The AHRA launched a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AmherstAHRA to inform people of upcoming events and activities of the assembly. (event flyer below).
“Boots On The Ground” Campaign Launched
Members of the AHRA and supporters, including several members of the Amherst College student senate, went door-to-door at Village Park, Rolling Green, and Riverside apartments. They informed residents of the efforts of the activities of the AHRA and the desire to obtain input from the Black community through the engagement survey and listening sessions. The engagement survey can be reached at the Engage Amherst site https://engageamherst.org/ahra .
According to volunteer Mary Porcino, many people the group talked to were unaware of the AHRA’s work. She said the group heard moving stories of Black residents’ experiences in town. They plan more door-to-door efforts to reach more members of the Black community.
$134,000 Added To Reparations Fund For 2022
As agreed upon in June, an amount equal to the cannabis tax revenue for previous year will be added to the reparations stabilization fund until the fund reaches $2 million. The cannabis tax revenue for FY 2022 was $134,000. Although the AHRA had hoped that the town’s contribution to the fund would be closer to $200,000 per year, AHRA chair Michele Miller expects the annual amount to rebound in subsequent years.
AHRA member Debora Bridges announced that the Ancestral Bridges exhibit will be at the Amherst History Museum until November 5. The exhibit documents the history of Blacks in Amherst through photographs and artifacts.
Shabazz attended a talk entitled “Stolen Wealth, Hidden Power: The Case for Reparations for Mass Incarceration” by Tasseli McKay. McKay is the author of a book by the same title. The talk was held on September 30 at Mount Holyoke College and included responses by Shabazz and Ali Aslam.
AHRA member Yvonne Mendez recommended that the assembly’s Facebook page contain a section on resources.
The AHRA will next meet on October 17 at 2 p.m.