Boston reparations task force member says examination of slavery could yield 'real dollar' compensation

'I always think about if we had compensation for every second of enslavement just on the legal books," Boston Task Force member L'Merchie Frazier says

Boston Reparations Task Force member L’Merchie Frazier told Fox News Digital on Friday that the examination of the history and aftermath of slavery practices in the U.S. could lead to compensation of "real dollars."

"There's always been this question: what is owed us?" Frazier told Fox News Digital. "I always think about if we had compensation for every second of enslavement just on the legal books. And we assigned a dollar value to that, how much would that be? How much would that have been rendered as far as cost?"

Frazier’s comments came after Democratic Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced last week that the city has established teams that will play a role in the city's reparations task force. Wu said the Boston Reparations Task Force will consist of one team of historians that will research the city of Boston’s role in the transatlantic slave trade and the impact of slavery on the city. 4

"Reparations to me means I remember. I reclaim. I restore, I reimagine. Those are my four tenets and looking at over 500 years of Black and Indigenous history, the hidden stories–the property… relationships in land and bodies," Frazier said. 


She continued, "From the possessive logic that has been rendered in the Western Hemisphere and in that the toll that has been an impact of slavery as a contract–-as implemented in all the facets of life."


Boston Reparations Task Force member L’Merchie told Fox News Digital that the examination of the history and consequences of slavery practices in the U.S. could yield to "real dollars." (Fox News Digital)

"We should be meeting this with a case of examination. That is to weigh the balance [of] justice [and] equity. What belongs to whom, and if, at some point, real dollars."

Each historian was evaluated by city staff and other members of the task force. 

Frazier, an activist and poet, was tasked by the city of Boston to evaluate the historians who would aid other task force members in developing a report of recommendations for the mayor. She explained further that the historians selected for the project are "important" as they will help other task force members "come to some concrete decision-making that is informed."

She made clear that the task force is "not enacting policy or in charge of any distribution."

After examining the city’s slave history and its impact on current residents, the Boston Reparations Task Force will create a report of recommendations "for reparative justice solutions" to aid Black residents for the city officials to consider, the website for the task force states.

In addition to researching the legacy of slavery in Boston, the task force will engage the community to discuss their "lived experience," according to the task force's website.

The task force reportedly has a budget of $500,000 to study the issue. The Boston City Council voted to form the task force in December 2022.

Mayor Michelle Wu

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said the Boston Reparations Task Force will consist of one team of historians that will research the city of Boston’s role in the transatlantic slave trade and the impact of slavery on the city.  (Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)

"There's the moral issue, as James Baldwin talks about: America's moral credit. Martin Luther King pointed to the moral compass. The check marked insufficient funds–All of that has a part and parcel to do with a 21st-century view looking back over the centuries of what reparations will mean to us. How do we reconcile and repair in areas of education, the health and wealth gap, all of those issues that confront us today?" Frazier said. 


Frazier explained further that in terms of monetary compensation, the matter is complex. 

"And to whom and what time we could start calculating from, you know, it's a very complex issue. It's not something that's going to be arrived at tomorrow," she said.

Frazier pressed the question, "How will we then meet this very complex question? In its layers, in its examination of land rights and documents and archives."

Frazier's comments in an interview with Fox News Digital came after she told another outlet that "Boston is on trial to redress historical injustices that flow directly and indirectly from the institution of chattel slavery."

Kathy Hochul speaks

New York state launched a commission to explore the best methods of providing reparations to descendants of slaves in December 2023. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

"Boston is now asked to look at its history with slavery, its 1638 moment," Frazier told Fox News Digital. "And then going forward from there and how it's going to reconcile any aspects of repair."

Frazier is an award-winning artist and poet. According to her website, "she delivers diversity, equity, and belonging workshops for corporations and municipalities."

Boston's is the latest attempt to examine the impact of slavery in the U.S., as municipalities and states across the country have also recently launched exploratory efforts on the matter. Reparations are even being considered on the federal level.

Reparations have also been proposed or expected to be implemented in other cities in California; Fulton County, Georgia; Shelby County, Tennessee; Boston; Detroit; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Durham, North Carolina.

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