Friday, June 14, 2024

A historical policy for reparations was introduced June 21 by city councillors E. Denise Simmons and Patty Nolan. The Evanston, Illinois, city council laid the groundwork with its first-of-its-kind initiative designed to provide reparations to the descendants of those who were enslaved in this country, using tax revenues from a burgeoning marijuana industry to fund payments of $25,000 to 16 eligible Black residents to be put toward homeownership and generational equity building.

Cambridge residents who have been meeting weekly on the topic say they would like to have more time to discuss what reparations means for them, so a policy is developed that has a historical reckoning for Cambridge’s founding role in slavery and reflects the voice of residents.

The Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council recommends that all Cambridge residents:

  • Sign up and testify at the special City Council meeting Monday here.
  • Tell city councillors to table policy order 141 and policy order 166 until September so more time can go into community engagement and improved language.

MRCC believes the voice of residents is imperative in developing a policy that reflects their will. To stay informed and learn more, join residential discussions at 7 p.m. Mondays through August at

This municipal campaign for reparations in Cambridge is part of MRCC’s transformative justice work, in which we examine systems of oppression and focus on solutions that will strengthen the health of our communities.

Since its establishment, MRCC has lobbied for grants, loan forgiveness and a 25 percent set-aside in cannabis tax revenue to go toward a state social equity fund in a bill now resting with our state Legislature. It will be instrumental in having municipalities across the state go from cannabis bans to accepting licenses, for the Cannabis Control Commission to recognize cooperatives within their licenses and so much more. The organization has several ongoing political campaigns, including one to end the war on drugs by decriminalizing all drugs on a municipal and state level and supporting efforts for the state of Massachusetts to pause on investing $20 million to $50 million to build prisons – and now a municipal campaign for reparations kicking off in Cambridge.

Saskia VannJames, Garden Street

Saskia VannJames is a lobbyist and board Member of the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council.