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Boston takes rare step of apologizing for its role in slavery and its lasting harm


(NPR) BOSTON — Boston has just become the first major city to offer a formal apology for its role in trans-Atlantic slavery.

Coming nearly four centuries after slavery began here, a city council resolution that passed unanimously Wednesday condemns the unique “dastardliness” of slavery, and its legacy of “systemic white supremacy and racism” that’s reflected in ongoing racial inequities in housing, education, income and more. The city council offered its “deepest and most sincere apology,” and acknowledged “responsibility in […] the death, misery and deprivation” that slavery caused.

The resolution, which is non-binding, pledges “efforts to repair past and present harm done to Black Americans,” to remove “prominent anti-Black symbols” in the city, and to increase public education on how the slave trade “impacted Boston’s past and present systems of oppression.”

The move is mostly symbolic, as it includes no funding for specific policies or programs and stops short of another proposal that would create a commission to study reparations. That measure was given a hearing by the Boston City Council in March, but has yet to come up for a vote.

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