THE PHILADELPHIA REPARATIONS TASK FORCE

The Philadelphia Reparations Task Force studies and develops reparations proposals and programs for Black Philadelphians whose ancestors endured chattel slavery and Jim Crow in the United States. Organized by N’COBRA PHL and introduced to Philadelphia’s City Council by Councilmembers Jamie Gauthier (3rd District) and Kendra Brooks (At-Large), the Philadelphia Reparations Task Force resolution established the Task Force with unanimous approval on June 22nd, 2023. 

The Philadelphia Reparations Task Force studies and develops reparations proposals and programs for Black Philadelphians whose ancestors endured chattel slavery and Jim Crow in the United States. The mission of the Task Force is to provide the Philadelphia legislature with a comprehensive overview and report on how reparations can atone for the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and institutional racism in America for Black Philadelphians. The vision of the reparations task force is to elevate and protect the full human rights and human potential of Black Philadelphia.

contact: info@rep215.com

THE PHILADELPHIA REPARATIONS TASK FORCE CO-CHAIRS

Co-Chair: Rashaun Williams is a Philadelphia native with experience supporting grassroots and public broadcast media, human service nonprofits, and global impact ventures. Rashaun has worked as an environmental sustainability organizer, K-12 academic enrichment program director, social entrepreneurship institute coordinator, and humanitarian rights justice and law convener. Rashaun co-chairs N’COBRA PHL, the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, and coordinates Rep 215.

Co-Chair: Breanna Moore is a Ph.D. History candidate at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the New Jersey Reparations Council Research Fellow. She co-chairs N’COBRA PHL (National Coalition of Black for Reparations in America Philadelphia chapter) which successfully advocated for the establishment of a Philadelphia Reparations Task Force. Breanna has held fellowships at The United Nations OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) Programme for People of African Descent, the International Center for Transitional Justice, the Huntington Library, and the University of Cambridge. Breanna holds a B.A. in International Relations and African Studies from University of Pennsylvania. You can learn more at breannamoore.com.

Program Manager: VanJessica Gladney is a Ph.D. History candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, currently writing a dissertation on the Massachusetts Regulation of 1786-1787 (more commonly known as Shays’s Rebellion). Outside of her doctoral research, VanJessica was one of the founding members of the Penn & Slavery Project and currently serves as the lead tour guide for the Penn & Slavery Project’s Augmented Reality Campus Tour. The project successfully challenged the university’s claims that there were no connections between the university and the institution of slavery. She also enjoys crocheting in her spare time.

Atlantic World History Coordinator: Richard White has been involved in the study of Black Philadelphia for the last forty years. His focus was to learn from past generations of community builders. He has come to acquire a passion for the history of African People and Black Philadelphians. As a member of the Pan African Federation Organization (PAFO), he came to understand that by building study groups and using Black History as a tool, it became a great way, of healing while organizing, His interest, in community with others, provided him the opportunity, to be one of several founding members of N’COBRA Philadelphia.

Education Coordinator: Ayanna Stephens (Walker) is a Philadelphia native and mother of three children who was chosen by God to serve children. She is currently the Principal at The Workshop School, a project-based learning high school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Here she leads an amazing group of educators who provide amazing learning experiences for amazing young people. Ayanna has been an educator in the Philadelphia school system for 23 years, serving hundreds of students and teachers. She believes that the greatest teacher is a student first and is also a lifelong learner. Ayanna earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and mathematics and a Master of Education degree from Lincoln University of PA., School Administration certification from Temple University, STEM professional development certification from NASA and the University of Columbia, PBL leadership certification from the University of Pennsylvania and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership at Grand Canyon University. Ayanna’s love for education continues to shape her life, her community and the world.

Economic Justice Coordinator: Kevin Mansa, formerly Kevin Thomas Jr., has been a financial professional and community advocate in the Philadelphia area for close to 20 years. He started his career as a Branch Manager/ AVP for PNC Bank, before transitioning to Entrepreneurship. Kevin established a business consulting firm that specialized in helping non-profits and start-ups gain traction and create organizational structure. In 2015, he joined the Center for Hunger Free Communities where he pioneered the first zero-income financial curriculum designed for people who receive public assistance. Over the next 8 years, Kevin taught thousands of low-income Philadelphians financial literacy and raised awareness for political and systemic injustices. In 2021, he launched Black Royalty, LLC an online education platform that teaches wealth generation for Black people. Black Royalty teaches financial models aimed at multi-generational wealth creation, the eradication of black poverty, and the reestablishment of the powerful black family.

Criminal & Legal Justice System Coordinator: Cara McClellan is the Founding Director and Practice Associate Professor of the Advocacy for Racial and Civil (ARC) Justice Clinic at Penn Carey Law School, which provides students with hands-on experience working in civil rights litigation and policy advocacy around systemic racism. McClellan joins the Law School from her position as Assistant Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., where her work focused on increasing education equity and ending the criminalization of Black people. She gained litigation experience as the lead counsel on several cases, including Smith v. City of Philadelphia, challenging the Philadelphia Police Department’s use of military-style weapons against protesters, residents, and bystanders in West Philadelphia. McClellan has also represented students and families in school desegregation cases and students and alumni as amici in SFFA v. Harvard, defending Harvard’s affirmative action admissions policy. She is the author of numerous law review articles and is a frequent media commentator on issues of civil rights. A Philadelphia native, McClellan graduated from Central High School and spent two years teaching middle school in Philadelphia with Teach for America. McClellan earned her undergraduate degree from Yale, an MSEd from Penn’s Graduate School of Education, and a JD from Yale Law School. Following law school, she served as a federal judicial law clerk.

Health & Wellness Coordinator: Jourdyn A. Lawrence, PhD, MSPH, is an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She joined the Dornsife School of Public Health as part of the Drexel FIRST (Faculty Institutional Recruitment for Sustainable Transformation) program. Broadly, her research interests include examining racism as a cause of racial health inequities, understanding the embodiment of racism (i.e., how racism “gets under the skin” to affect health), and assessing interventions, such as reparations, to mitigate the ongoing impacts of racism and other forms of social oppression. Primarily her work explores how interpersonal and structural racism are embodied and act as determinants of healthy aging and cognitive-related outcomes using interdisciplinary theories and advanced epidemiologic methods. She also focuses on how epidemiologic methods can be used as one way to advocate for social change. Dr. Lawrence received her PhD in Population Health Sciences from Harvard University and a Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) in Epidemiology from the University of South Carolina.

Law & Policy Coordinator: Rev. Jacqueline (Jackie) Newsome, Esq. moved to Philadelphia Pennsylvania in 2019 after earning her Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. Prior to attending Emory University, Rev. Jackie earned a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in politics from New York University and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from The University of Chicago Law School. Rev. Jackie is a licensed attorney, liberation and womanist theologian, and prison and police abolitionist. Rev. Jackie knows that her unique academic and work experience at the intersection of faith and law will serve her well as the Reparations Task Force Law and Policy Coordinator.

Urban Planning & Sustainable Development Coordinator: Dominique London is a multi-disciplinary artist and organizer from West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is a songwriter, performer, and photographer. She has written music for Netflix, and Hulu and is streaming on the world-famous wake-up show on Sirius satellite radio.  Dominique received her formal education from Rosemont College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in English literature and communication. She also holds a master’s degree from Temple University in City and Regional Planning and is pursuing a second master’s in Ayurvedic and integrative medicine.  After being displaced from her Wynnefield home in the Penn Wynn Apartments, Dominique organized with her community to create housing legislation in Philadelphia; eviction sealing which passed in the City Council in October 2020.  Dominique currently serves as Executive Director for UC Green, the largest and oldest tree tender group in Philadelphia. In her spare time, she stewards her community garden in Cobbs Creek, left by her grandmother, and holds volunteer days for neighbors looking to grow fresh produce.

RESOLUTION

“Authorizing the creation of the Philadelphia Reparations Task Force to study and develop reparations proposals for Black Philadelphian Descendants of Enslaved Africans in the United States.

WHEREAS, from 1619 through 1865, the transatlantic slave trade resulted in approximately 4,000,000 Africans and their descendants being enslaved in the United States; and

WHEREAS, Although the institution of slavery became illegal in the United States in 1865, discrimination against Black Americans continued through racist practices including Redlining, Jim Crow, and Black Codes; and

WHEREAS, in the past, the City of Philadelphia has taken steps to address its past involvement in the illegal institution of slavery; and

WHEREAS, Philadelphia’s Slavery Era Business/Corporate Insurance Disclosure laws were enacted in 2004 requiring City contractors to complete affidavits verifying that they have searched any and all of their company’s or predecessor company records regarding investments or profits earned from slavery or slaveholder insurance policies during slavery; and

WHEREAS, Under these laws, any financial institution authorized to receive deposits from the City that has disclosed slavery policies or profits, they must provide the City with a statement of financial reparations, including a description of new financial products or programs developed to address racial disparities in its lending and investment activities; and

WHEREAS, Black Philadelphians, specifically those descended from Enslaved Africans continue to suffer extraordinary disparities in economic, educational, housing, and healthcare outcomes as a result of the illegal institution of slavery. Before the COVID-19 Pandemic, at a staggering 30.8%, Black Philadelphians had a poverty rate more than twice that of non-Hispanic White Philadelphians; and

WHEREAS, Although more than 40% of Philadelphia’s residents are Black, only 6% of the City’s businesses are Black-owned; and

WHEREAS, Multiple City and State level Reparations Task Forces and Commissions have been established across the United States to examine the distribution of reparations to the descendants of Enslaved Africans, including California, New Jersey, Amherst, MA, Willington, DE, Chicago, IL and Detroit, MI; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, BY THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, That it hereby authorizes the creation of the Philadelphia Reparations Task Force to study and develop reparations proposals for Black Philadelphian Descendants of Enslaved Africans in the United States.”