Michelle Higgins

Michelle Higgins, director of Christian advocacy organization Faith for Justice, will take part in the Reparations Black Party and Teach in on Saturday Oct. 14, 2022, at Central Baptist Church.

With the national reparations movement gaining momentum, Central Baptist Church near downtown St. Louis will host a Reparations Black Party and Teach In at 11 a.m. Saturday October 15, 2022.

According to the organizers, the event seeks to “deepen community understanding about reparations and amplify the growing call for a reparations commission.”

It will feature an interactive teach-in about reparations, specifically in St. Louis city, and a conversation between organizers, community members, and Mayor Tishaura Jones.

“United States history is wrought with exploitation and outright robbery of Black and Brown peoples, and St. Louis is no exception. Reparations is on the pathway to community healing and it’s a step toward racial justice through economic security,” said Michelle Higgins, director of Faith for Justice.

“We have the opportunity to demand repair, and to learn how we can support each other along the way. Reparations is part of our commitment to making St. Louis home.”

A coalition of 25 local organizations sent a memo to Mayor Jones’ administration, requesting establishment of a reparations commission to address “the longstanding harms of racial exclusion, occupation, and economic divestment done to Black people and communities in the City of St. Louis.

During a Juneteenth celebration at St. John's United Church of Christ in north St. Louis, Congresswoman Cori Bush amplified the call, and other organizations have joined the effort.

“For years, we have been talking about the disparate outcomes that have long existed for Black St. Louisans. We have introduced terms like systemic racism and racial equity into the everyday language to better understand the status quo,” said Blake Strode, ArchCity Defenders executive director.

“And now, we see a strong grassroots desire to directly address the generational harm caused to Black people and Black communities.”

Kayla Reed, Action St. Louis executive director, said “Black people deserve to thrive in St. Louis. If we’re serious about transformation, if we’re serious about Black liberation, then we have to be committed to telling the truth about how we got here.” 

“A process of reparations allows us to engage in that work.”

A reparations commission would determine the size, scope, and impact of racial oppression, exclusion, occupation, and economic divestment on Black communities in the city, according to organizers.

The memo “acknowledges the nefarious impact of slavery, compounded by generations of anti-Black policymaking that systematically prohibited Black St. Louisans from accessing homeownership, equitable education, accessible transit, environmental health, and much more.”

“Across multiple generations, Black St. Louisans experience state-sanctioned occupation through the arrest-and-incarcerate model of public safety that has resulted in ever-increasing levels of violence and harm, including leading the nation in the most people killed by police per population of any major US city.”

Organizers will echo the call for a commission to explore the history of race-based harms in the city; reveal the present-day manifestations of that history; and, ultimately, propose a method for directly repairing the harms that have been inflicted and preventing further injury now and in the future.

Event hosts include Action St. Louis, American Civil Liberties Union-MO, ArchCity Defenders, Deaconess Foundation, Empower Missouri, Faith for Justice, Freedom Community Center, Homes for All, Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, Organization for Black Struggle, Pro-Choice Missouri, the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, Uhuru Solidarity Movement, and Unhoused STL.

To register, visit: https://bit.ly/reparationsblockparty. Lunch will be provided for registrants and live music will be performed by Tef Poe. Central Baptist church is located at 2842 Washington Avenue downtown.

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