In a unanimous vote Wednesday, Boston’s city council approved a resolution in an effort to apologize for Boston’s part in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
The resolution was proposed by Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson, who said the apology was the first step toward addressing the harm slavery caused.
The non-binding resolution promises that the city will begin removing “anti-Black symbols” and educate citizens on Boston’s history, especially its history regarding the trans-Atlantic slave trade. However, the resolution fails to commit to any reparations after over 100 years of the city’s involvement in the slave trade.
The council is considering a separate proposal for the city commission to mull over reparations, but nothing is definite as of now.
Rev. Kevin Peterson spoke about the city’s apology and how historic the moment is.
“Having the city of Boston apologize for slavery was once unthinkable,” Rev. Peterson said in a statement. “We have found something to build on for the healing of the city.”
Mayor Michelle Wu talked about how important it is for the city to condemn its racial actions of getting involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
“Boston is revered for our role in this country’s founding, but we must acknowledge and address the dark pieces of hat history that too often go untold,” Mayor Wu said. “We must learn from our past, right wrongs, and build an equitable Boston that works for everyone.”
Boston’s involvement began in the mid-1600s when the first recorded New England ship carrying slaves sailed from Boston, Massachusetts. 1670 is when the state became a regular investor in the slave trade. According to National Park Service, an estimated 166 transatlantic voyages shipped out of Boston. There were even local newspapers advertising the selling of enslaved people, which would occur in markets, coffeehouses, homes, and warehouses.
Boston’s economy flourished because of the slaves that “served as butlers, maids, courtiers, beer makers, drivers, cooks and producers of clothing.”
A well-known Bostonian who came from the trans-Atlantic slave trade was African-American author Phillis Wheatley, known for her literary works like A Farewell to America and His Excellency General Washington.