Vt. racial justice advocates call for action at Statehouse

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 6:40 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance is urging the Legislature to move forward on racial equity issues, including slavery reparations and a constitutional amendment prohibiting slavery in the state.

Alliance officials Wednesday highlighted the acronym A.C.T, which they say they are basing advocacy efforts on this year. They include acknowledging historic systems of racism, creating new structures for economic and cultural empowerment, and transforming state systems.

While Vermont was not a slave state and was the first to abolish slavery back in 1777, those seeking reparations say non-slave states benefited from slavery. The Burlington City Council approved a reparations task force last summer. Supporters are looking for similar action on the state level. A proposed constitutional amendment approved by the House and Senate awaits further consideration this session.

“Let’s replace it with a new amendment that says that we don’t permit slavery in our nation at all under any circumstances. That is our hope, that’s what we hope to get to. It’s just kind of hard doing that when we still hold it in our own constitution,” said the Alliance’s Mark Hughes.

the group is also asking for more funding for the Office of the Vermont Racial Equity Director and the creation of an independent community control board for all Vermont law enforcement.

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