‘Why Northampton?” Online panel will explore call for reparations commission

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writer

Published: 01-23-2023 5:26 PM

NORTHAMPTON — An online panel discussion regarding a proposed reparations commission for the city is set to take place Tuesday evening via a Zoom conference, in partnership with Forbes Library.

The meeting, titled “Why Reparations? Why Northampton? Why Now?” features three panelists regarding a proposed reparations commission that would study the historical harms and systemic racism experienced by Black people in Northampton throughout its nearly 370-year history.

The three panelists are the Rev. Andrea Ayvazian, who serves as the director of the Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership; Ousmane Power-Greene, director of Africana studies and associate professor of history at Clark University in Worcester; and Dan Cannity, co-chair of the Policing Review Commission of Northampton.

Also serving as guest speakers will be three members of the seven-member Northampton Reparations Committee, an activist group pushing for the city to take a closer look at its history. Although long a bastion for progressivism and the abolitionist movement, the city was founded at a time when slavery was widespread throughout the Colonies and Massachusetts.

The three speakers from the committee are Sarah Patterson, an associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Tom Weiner, a Northampton activist and author; and Sara Weinberger, a professor of social work who was written columns in the Gazette in support of reparations.

“The small number of Black residents in Northampton are impacted by racism, including the lack of affordable housing, access to transportation and educational inequality,” the committee wrote in a petition posted on its website. “Without policies and practices that address barriers to equality, fewer Black people will choose to remain here.”

The Zoom conference takes place at 6:30 p.m. Those interested in registering can do so by visiting the Forbes Library’s website at https://forbeslibrary.libcal.com/event/9979696.

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.

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