Dallas, Tex. (CBS HOUSTON) — A group of Texas county commissioners accidentally voted unanimously to approve monetary slavery reparations for African-Americans whose ancestors were enslaved in the U.S.
The Dallas County Commissioners Court declared on Tuesday that African-Americans deserve “monetary and substantial reparations” from the U.S. for 400 years of suffering caused by the enslavement of Africans over the course of the country’s history, The Dallas Morning News reports. Commissioners thought they were honoring an annual holiday when they voted for the “Juneteenth Resolution” – sponsored by the county’s lone black commissioner, John Wiley Price.
Price, who read the resolution aloud, appeared to deliver the broad speech on slavery history and Jim Crow to a group of seemingly uninterested commissioners. And it was the last line of the resolution that did not draw attention from the room.
“The United States of America is derelict in its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to the African American people,” Price said. “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.”
Immediately after the reading of the resolution, a commissioner seconded the motion and the court passed it unanimously.
The commissioners admitted after the Tuesday meeting that they had not read the document before voting unanimously for its approval, The Dallas Morning News reports. Commissioner Mike Cantrell even managed to have his vote changed to “abstain.”
“The reason why I didn’t abstain this morning is that I had not received a copy of the resolution,” he told the Dallas Morning News.
“I do not support reparations, and I do not support one of the statements he made, which was that the United States was derelict in his promise to African Americans,” Cantrell told the Dallas Observer. “I think Commissioner Price went too far, and I can’t support that.”
“I had no opportunity to review it, to see what was in the resolution,” he added. “As Commissioner Price was reading this I was trying to find a copy because it sounded like he was going way over what he typically does.”
Juneteenth resolutions are not common in the Southern U.S., with the holiday celebrating the end of slavery’s injustices in America by commemorating the June 19, 1865 date when abolition was announced in the Lone Star State. Price’s resolution went far beyond celebration of the holiday, listing a series of injustices and instances of suffering as a result of Texas slavery.
Price told The Atlantic he wasn’t sure how the commissioners had not been made aware or given copies of the resolution, adding that he was influenced by a recent front-page article about slavery reparations for African-Americans.
“We are the only people who haven’t been compensated,” he told The Dallas Morning News.
However, the resolution is nonbinding, and no tax money will be expended as a result of the county’s accidental approval.