Redressing Historical Racial Injustices: A Toolkit for Policymakers and Advocates

This toolkit introduces readers to a range of policy approaches to remediating historical racial injustices, including racial violence, oppression, and discriminatory policies and practices. In some cases, legislation may be appropriate to address a discrete event, such as a commission created to study a specific massacre and provide remedies to survivors and descendants. Other initiatives may aim to address a broader historical period or pattern of events – for example, a commission to study a state’s history of lynching or a task force to develop proposals for reparations for descendants of slavery. This toolkit serves as a resource to help state and local policymakers, staff, and advocates understand why such remedies are needed, what forms they may take, and what policies other states and localities have adopted to address historical injustices.

The toolkit also draws from polices adopted by states and localities in the United States to address historical injustices, such as apologies by state or local government officials or legislative bodies; truth and reconciliation commission; and material reparations for survivors and descendants. However, all redress efforts should be directly informed by, and developed in collaboration with, the communities most affected by the historical harms, particularly survivors and descendants. It is essential that reparative processes create opportunities for community engagement and input at all stages.

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