Boston has issued an apology for its part in permitting slavery to exist in the city, describing the move as an effort to “acknowledge the suffering” that it has caused.
According to the Boston Herald, members of the Boston City Council unanimously voted on Wednesday to pass a resolution acknowledging, condemning, and apologizing for the city’s role in the transatlantic slave trade and its impact on Black people centuries later.
The city also proceeded to remove “prominent anti-Black symbols” from the city and to make attempts to “heal past and present harm” to Black people, according to the newspaper.
According to NPR, the resolution’s adoption is “mostly symbolic,” as it does not propose reparations or financing for specific projects or parts of the city.
Slavery was abolished in Massachusetts 239 years before the passage. Slave seekers seeking freedom in the state could be apprehended and returned to their masters under laws like the Fugitive Slave Acts.
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In the transatlantic slave trade, the city was a stopover point for ships bound for the Americas.
According to the Boston Middle Passage project, the first documented slaves arrived in Boston from the Caribbean in 1638, and by 1645, the city had “almost two hundred recorded slaving journeys.”
Tania Fernandes Anderson, a member of the Boston City Council, believes that an apology for the “basic crime of enslavement of African people” will help Boston become a more “fair and equitable city.”