Fulton County moves forward with reparation study

One Fulton County commissioner called it an uncomfortable conversation.

The topic: discussed and approved by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners for money to research potential reparations. 

The county will work with the Atlanta University Center to examine the slave period in the United States.

The argument put forward by proponents of the reparations concept is that descendants of slaves can and should be compensated for what happened to their ancestors who were forced to work as legalized property for white slave owners. 

"It's so hurtful," said Bridget Thorne, one of the white commissioners. "This is just going to tear us apart."

Thorne called it unwise the spend $210,000 right now to fund the examination. The measure got through by a 4-2 vote. 

The county is struggling to fund critical needs, like a new jail and medical services for the southern portion of the county.

"So, when is the right time," countered Khadija Abdur-Rahman, a Black lawmaker, who said yes to the funding. 

Abdur-Rahman said the money is just a fraction of the county budget. 

If the five researchers who will be hired with the funds come back and say reparations are a good idea or something else, the effort can "heal" the community, Abdur-Rahman believes. 

"This is a hard conversation to have," Abdur-Rahman said. 

The reparations task force has been asked to return their findings late in 2024.