Something unexpected happened recently deep in the heart of Texas.
On Tuesday, members of the Dallas County Commissioners Court voted unanimously in favor of monetary payments – known as reparations – for the descendants of the African-American slaves “who built this country.”
The call for reparations was part of a much longer resolution offered by Commissioner John Wiley Price to commemorate “Juneteenth,” an annual celebration that marks the freeing of the slaves at the end of the Civil War.
Price read his resolution out loud during the meeting, but the other commissioners had apparently stopped listening by the time he reached the end, which included these lines (as reported by the Dallas Observer):
The United States of America is derelict in its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to the African American people. Be it further resolved that the dereliction that has caused 400 years of significant… suffering to the descendants of those who have been enslaved Africans who built this country, should be satisfied with monetary and substantial reparations to same.
RawStory.com reports the four other commissioners were “playing with their computers or reading documents” while Price was reading his resolution. After Price finished speaking, a commissioner “quickly seconded” the measure, and it was approved with a voice vote.
It wasn’t until an hour later that they realized that they had voted for “such a politically fraught decree,” the Dallas Observer reports.
Commissioner Mike Cantrell, the body’s sole Republican, decided to change his vote to an abstention.
The others let their vote stand, though they made some pointed complaints about staff members who had not provided them with copies of the resolution to study beforehand.
The approved resolution means that Dallas County, Texas officially supports paying reparations to descendants of slaves. But since the resolution is nonbinding, “no tax money will change hands as a result of its passage,” DallasNews.com notes.
The concept of reparations is popular among some progressives, but it hasn’t become a mainstream issue, at least not yet.