Conversation with Terri Barnes, The Chairwoman of The Kansas City Mayor’s Commission on Reparations.

Category: Business, Community Organizations, Politics

In accordance with Ordinance 220966, The Mayor’s Commission on Reparations was formed in Kansas City. Its purpose is to conduct research and propose policies concerning reparatory justice for past injustices and discriminatory practices inflicted upon the city’s Black/African American community. The establishment of this commission was announced by Mayor Lucas on May 1, 2023. The commission aims to rectify historical injustices and foster equality for all residents of Kansas City. Comprising 13 members, the commission concentrates on key areas such as healthcare, education, housing, economics, and criminal justice.

To date, the Commission has achieved the following
·Proposed Budget. The Commission proposed a $510,000 budget that is expected to be approved
for the Mayor’s 2024-2025 budget. Monies will be used for strategic planning, consultants, legal
advisement, and logistics. The business and philanthropic communities stand ready to support
financially where needed.
·Lean In And Listen. The Commission hosted city-wide listening sessions. Its inaugural session focused
on what reparations mean for Kansas City. The second session was focused on educational disparities.
Plans are underway to partner with Academy award-winning filmmaker, Kevin Willmott, for the third
listening session on healthcare and viewing of Willmott’s film, “From Separate to Equal: The Creation
of Truman Medical Center”.
·Plugged Into The Cause. The Commission created a multi-layered educational approach to learning
the reparations movement to assess the best approach for Kansas City. The Commission has utilized
the advice of industry experts, created a repository for curated resources, identified community
support groups, consulted with legacy groups, and met with a leading national genealogist/historian
for quantitative and qualitative data points.
·Present And Aware. The Commission attended the 3rd Annual Reparations Symposium in Evanston
to build networks and learn best practices. Evanston is the first city to receive reparations for
homeownership. Its plan serves as a blueprint for Kansas City. The Commission also actively
participates in monthly Midwest and regional reparation meetings for best practices.
·Speak Up. The Commission served as panelists for the city-wide Buy Black Empowerment Initiative
with Robin Rue Simmons, the architect of the nation’s first government-funded reparations program.
The KC Reparations Coalition hosted this event to provide a platform for participants to give feedback
on the Commission’s efforts. Participants also viewed “The Big Payback,” which chronicled Evanston’s
reparations success. Participants were treated to the first reparations power song presented by
·Music With Purpose. The Commission is slated to host the “Rhythm, Rhyme & Reparations” concert
series to bring awareness and garner community support.


“Building a better community for all requires our city to address past wrongs, ongoing patterns of
discrimination, and tools by which we may create equal opportunity for all Kansas Citians.”
– Mayor Quinton Lucas

Pursuant to Ordinance 220966, The Mayor’s Commission on Reparations* in Kansas City was
established to study and make policy recommendations regarding reparatory justice for past harm
and discriminatory practices against the city’s Black/African American community. Mayor Lucas
announced the formation of this commission on May 1, 2023. The Commission’s goal is to address
historical wrongs and create equal opportunities for all Kansas Citians. It consists of 13 members
and focuses on impact areas such as healthcare, education, housing, economics, and criminal

·The U.N. And KC. The Commission hosted The Black Audit Project with founder Dr. Justin Hansford
and team. The Commission provided two listening sessions for the community to share personal
stories, provided a tour of Black KC and provided resources of documented harm. All curated
findings will be reported to members of the United Nations to bring global focus to the detriment of
continual racial inequality for Black Americans.
·Public Presence. The Commission has committed a significant amount of time to educating the
public and garnering support by conducting radio interviews, panel discussions and community
learning sessions. More work is being planned in this area.

*The Mayor’s Commission on Reparations was seated due in part to the efforts and groundwork of
The Kansas City Coalition on Reparations, led by Mickey Dean, a longtime activist and member of
the Kansas City Chapter of the Black United Front. Janay Reliford serves as the President. The
Coalition was formed in 2020 and helped to draft the ordinance that was approved and passed in
Kansas City. The Coalition plays a significant role in educating the public and supporting the
efforts of the Commission. Mickey Dean serves as an advisor to the Commission.

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