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St. Louis Reparations Commission extended until September

St. Louis’ Reparations Commission members, from left, Will Ross, Gwen Moore, Jada Brooks, David Cunningham and Kevin Anthony listen to a community member’s feedback during a commission meeting on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023, at the Sun Theatre in Midtown St. Louis.
Tristen Rouse
St. Louis Public Radio
The St. Louis Reparations Commission will be extended until Sept. 9 after previously being set to end this spring. Members asked Mayor Tishaura Jones for more time to engage with the community and to produce a final report.

The St. Louis Reparations Commission has been extended until Sept. 9.

The group requested the extension from St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones in a November letter to allow for more time to hold public meetings to discuss how Black St. Louisans would like the city to repair the harms from years of racial discrimination.

Members also asked for the city to help with costs to prepare and produce the final recommendations and report to present to the St. Louis Board of Aldermen. The commission was previously set to end this spring.

“It will allow, I think, time for the commission to really do some thorough and thoughtful work and for the city to be able to support that work as needed,” said Vernon Mitchell, the mayor’s liaison to the commission, during the virtual commission meeting on Wednesday.

Mitchell said that this shows the administration’s commitment to the commission’s work, and that it helps slow things down for the members to present methodical and intentional work to the city this fall.

Members Dr. Will Ross, Kimberly Franks, William Foster, David Cunningham and Chairperson Kayla Reed attended the virtual meeting. Reed said they will continue prioritizing public engagement but need financial support from the city for simple costs.

Reparations Commission on 'St. Louis on the Air'
The Reparations Commission has been extended to September. Kayla Reed and historian Gwen Moore discuss the commission's goals, and challenges, on 'St. Louis on the Air.'

“With the sort of expectation of both a written report and an engagement strategy, those things do cost,” Reed said. “There is a frustration from the public around how they're hearing about it. And so even placing ads in the paper about our future schedules, or radio ads, and social media ads to expand our reach, we don't sort of have the means to do that.”

Reed said costs associated with venue bookings and flier creations have been taken care of through the contributions of commission members and their individual institutions.

Franks and Ross expressed their dissatisfaction with the mayor’s office for not providing the commission with a budget. However, Ross said he and other members will create a budget proposal to present to Jones in the coming weeks.

The next public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 31 at St. Louis City Hall. Jones and Neal Richardson, the president of St. Louis Development Corporation, will discuss the city’s economic justice action plan at the February meeting.

Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.