District 3 Commissioner Dana Barrett said America’s history of racial justice and systemic racism should not be ignored. (Fulton County/Facebook)

The Fulton County Board of Commissioners approved $250,000 in its 2023 budget to fund the Fulton County Reparations Task Force.

The budget was approved in a 4 to 3 vote during its Jan. 18 meeting and included the task force funding, with commissioners and Reparations Task Force members citing preliminary research conducted for more than a year, according to a Fulton County press release.

The Reparations Task Force was established as an advisory body “to investigate and provide recommendations to the Board of Commissioners regarding priorities, objectives, and policies which will support the revitalization, preservation, and stabilization of the Black/African American population in Fulton County in the form of reparations,” the release reported.

“America has an undeniable history of racial injustice and an ongoing struggle against systemic racism, neither of which should be ignored. I believe there is a role to play at every level of government and across the private sector when it comes to addressing inequity,” District 3 Commissioner Dana Barrett, whose district includes all of Buckhead and parts of both Sandy Springs and Midtown, told the Sandy Springs Reporter.

She believes that reparation payments would be handled best at a federal level because of the complexities necessary to define, quantify and administer them.

“At the county level, we have a direct impact on our criminal justice system, our public health system, and on how we invest in our communities. As a Fulton County Commissioner, I am committed to addressing racial inequity in these areas and to listening, keeping an open mind, and learning. I look forward to seeing the recommendations of the Task Force,” Barrett said.

District 5 Commissioner Marvin S. Arrington Jr. said the decision shows the county is aware and cares about the work of the Reparations Task Force.

“This is important work being done by volunteers who are all passionate about an issue facing every African American not only in Fulton County but around this country,” he said.

Reparations Task Force Advisory Board Chair Karcheik Sims-Alvarado said it can examine how “Jim Crow and Urban Renewal denied African Americans opportunities to acquire personal, pollical, and economic autonomy” by using qualitative and quantitative data. A feasibility study will show how the county can support its recommendations.

Reparations were a top priority of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. before his assassination Task Force Advisory Board Vice Chair Marcus Coleman said.

Preliminary research examined slavery, how eminent domain affected residents of Bagley Park, and the history of convict labor camps throughout Fulton County, Sims-Alvarado said. More than 4,600 documents have been retrieved so far in the preliminary research, with researchers Olivia Reneau and John Wright presenting case studies from that work.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.