GREENBELT, Md. — Greenbelt residents have voted and approved the creation of a 21-member commission that will study, discuss and make suggestions on potential reparations for Native American and African American residents of the city.

Looking at the results from the Greenbelt website, 2,675 people voted in the election, totaling 17.8% of eligible registered voters. Of the votes cast, 2,432 cast a ballot on the ballot referendum, with 1522 voting in favor.

With this approval, Greenbelt has become the first U.S. city to have reparations on a ballot to be voted on, according to Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd. However, Byrd said he is not surprised since Greenbelt was built with significant help from African-Americans, dating as far back as 1937.

The city of Greenbelt has since seen some major demographic changes, with black and African-Americans making up roughly 47% of the city’s population and white people making up almost 30%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Yet, many such as Byrd say that the city has a long history of excluding African Americans. For example, Byrd was only the second African-American elected to the city council when he joined in 2017. Now, he is the youngest mayor ever elected in Greenbelt, and he has advocated for this ballot initiative to happen. As a result, the city council members approved to include this on the ballot as a referendum.

Looking ahead, many are wondering what the next steps will be. Currently, there is no timeline, no signal, and no scope of work for what the committee could determine.

Keep in mind, this initiative means that the issue will be studied and reviewed. There is no guarantee something will come back from this, and it should be noted that the reparations do not have to be monetary. More details will be provided when they become available.

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