Happening Today:

9:30 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu drinks some java at the Jamaica Plain Coffee Hour. | Mozart Street Playground, 10 Mozart Street, Jamaica Plain

11:30 a.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu joins the groundbreaking ceremony for the Bunker Hill public housing redevelopment. | 57 Walford Way, Charlestown

1 p.m. | Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll chairs a meeting of the Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Council. | Lynnfield Municipal Police Training Center, 425 Walnut St., Lynnfield

1 p.m. | Boston Mayor Michelle Wu cuts the ribbon on the City's new "Slavery in Boston" exhibit. | Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston

A promise of 40 acres and a mule made to freed slaves was never fulfilled by the U.S. government, but 158 years after emancipation (and counting) descendants are starting to see progress on reparations. And a Western Massachusetts town helping to drive the movement could start doling out compensation meant to address the harm as soon as next year.

With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to deliver a final blow to affirmative action any day now, UMass Amherst Prof. Amilcar Shabazz — who serves on the town’s reparations panel — told MASSterList it’s time to take a direct approach to remedy the long-standing effects of entrenched structural racism on Black Americans as a result of slavery.

“We didn’t do it on Juneteenth in 1865 when we pushed blacks into neo-slavery that didn’t stop until the 1950s and even then, we didn’t begin to address and make up for the past harms. When are we ever going to do it?” Shabazz asked.

Shabazz and his colleagues on the Amherst panel will recommend the town begin reparations payments by the end of 2024. If town officials concur with the panel report due out later this month, Amherst would be the first Massachusetts community and second town in the nation to deliver some kind of direct repayment. Although, who qualifies hasn’t yet been decided.

Amherst has amassed roughly $500,000 for the effort through its excess cannabis tax revenue. The panel is still sussing out what reparations should look like in Amherst, but Shabazz said everything from cash payments to housing vouchers is still on the table.

Evanston, Illinois was the nation’s first to offer restitution — in the form of housing assistance direct to Black residents victimized by the city’s discriminatory housing practices more than six decades ago. And conversations around reparations have taken root in cities from San Francisco to Boston (and Northampton). Cambridge is returning some of its cannabis tax revenues back to Black-owned businesses.

Bills filed by state Sen. Liz Miranda would create a statewide reparations commission and another that would establish a reparations fund using excise taxes from “applicable educational institutions.”

Shabazz said the federal government should be responsible for reparations, but with roughly two-thirds of Americans opposed to payments for descendants of slaves, there is a clear need “to change hearts and minds on the ground at the local level first.”

Support — predictably — is heavily split across racial lines with 80 percent of white Americans against and 77 percent of Black Americans in favor, according to a recent Pew Research survey. Three-quarters of reparations supporters say the federal government should bear all or most of the financial responsibility— but bills have failed to gain traction in Congress.

Missouri Democratic Rep. Cori Bush filed legislation this session calling for $14 trillion in reparations for Black Americans.

Send tips to Erin Tiernan Editor@MASSterList.com. For advertising and general inquiries, contact Dylan RossiterPublisher@MASSterList.comClick here to post a job on the MASSterList Job Board. Follow @MASSterList on Twitter. Did someone send you this edition? Subscribe here!

Tax relief headed for closed-door negotiations after Senate passes bill with big differences

Tax relief will now be battled out behind closed doors after Senators unanimously passed a roughly $590 million package of tax breaks late yesterday that excludes some cuts popular with the business community that were pitched by Gov. Maura Healey and approved by the House. The bill boosts investments in housing and gives breaks to renters, caretakers and the elderly. 

Business leaders have pledged to continue to lobby to slash the short-term capital gains tax rate to 5 percent from 12 percent in addition to some concessions for corporate taxes.

State House News Service

Playing the middle: Senate president sees different path to state competitiveness

If you ask Senate President Karen Spilka, state competitiveness hinges on “shoring up and expanding” the state’s middle class. She told an audience of critical business leaders that she will be focusing on housing, health care and education at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast the morning of the planned debate around the state Senate’s $590 million tax relief bill that nixed popular cuts among the industries.

State House News Service

Full moon: Climate activists wear thongs and bare all in climate protest takeover of Senate

Thong-wearing climate activists mooned senators and disrupted Thursday’s tax relief debate in state Senate chambers as they made their pitch for stopping fossil fuel infrastructure, reports Michael P. Norton for State House News Service. About an hour later, they were arrested and escorted out of the chamber.

State House News Service

Massachusetts Air National Guard member formally indicted on charges of leaking classified information

The Massachusetts Air National Guard member accused of sharing highly classified military secrets with gaming buddies online, has been formally indicted on charges, reports The New York Times. Jack Teixeira, 21, of North Dighton, was previously arrested and charged by criminal complaint and held. On Thursday, a federal grand jury has indicted Teixeira with six counts of willful retention and transmission of classified information relating to national defense.

The New York Times

Dueling it out: Still no end to feud splitting House, Senate committee leaders 

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy is more accurately described as fractured these days. On Wednesday morning, House members of the committee held a hearing on legislation dealing with electric vehicle charging stations which was followed by an afternoon session with Senators with the same witnesses, reports Bruce Mohl for Commonwealth Magazine.

Commonwealth Magazine

MIAA details 50 reports of discrimination on student athletes of color, ethnic groups

Racial slurs, antisemitic insults and images, homophobia and hazing are found at high schools across Massachusetts. A new report reveals the  MIAA has received 50 reports involving discrimination, harassment, or bullying since late 2021, reports Bob Hohler for The Boston Globe. It revealed a pattern of nearly one discriminatory act on school athletics per week since school has been in session.

The Boston Globe

Healey grants 7 pardons early in first term in break with tradition

Gov. Maura Healey recommended seven pardons yesterday for people who were convicted of crimes ranging from low-level drug offenses to assault and battery on a police officer, reports Chris Van Buskirk for The Boston Herald. It marks the first time in three decades a governor has done so during their first year in elected office. All seven were convicted at young ages.

The Boston Herald

Lawyers give ‘likely’ all clear on Boston’s new election maps

Boston’s new political map looks likely to stand up to a court challenge, lawyers assured city officials, which is a  good sign the city’s elections will be on schedule for this fall.

The Boston Globe

Drag Queen Story Hour gets nod from Copley church for ‘exceptional contributions’

The Boston Sun reports Old South Church in Copley Square honored the Boston chapter of Drag Queen Story Hour for its “exceptional contributions to our communities and the profound impact of storytelling” during a service this past Sunday.

The Boston Sun

Court tosses conviction of Black, Muslim man whose lawyer allegedly made racist statements

A Dorchester man pleaded guilty to being a pimp on advice from his lawyer, will get a chance to prove his innocence at trial after the Supreme Judicial Court ruled today there’s no way he could have possibly gotten good representation. Universal Hub reports that Anthony Dew’s lawyer professed repeatedly and publicly online to hating Blacks as much as he hated Muslims.

Universal Hub

Group effort: Trio of mayors had hangs in crafting Salem spending plan 

One budget, three mayors. The Salem City Council has approved a $194 million budget for the coming fiscal year that is unique because it reflects the work of three different mayoral administrations. Dustin Luca of the Salem News explains how the spending plan started to come together under former Mayor Kim Driscoll, was finalized by Acting Mayor Robert McCarthy and presented for approval by new Mayor Dominick Pangallo.

Salem News

Still going: Worcester residents latest charged over Jan. 6 actions

Two Worcester residents have been arrested by the FBI and will face charges that they illegally entered the Capitol building during the Jan. 6, 2021 riots, actions the feds say were caught on videotape. The arrests of Julie Miller and Long Duong came almost a year to the date after they were interviewed by the FBI about their movements on the day of the insurrection. 

The Boston Globe | MassLive | Telegram & Gazette

Clinton bid to save theater needs private funding 

The town of Clinton has cobbled together $400,000 worth of state and local American Rescue Plan Act funds to help restore and reopen the shuttered Strand Theater but MassLive’s Trea Lavery reports the funding could be lost unless a private developer steps forward willing to spend just as much to save the downtown landmark.


Pittsfield councilor who wanted budget slashed will run for mayor

Pittsfield City Councilor Karen Kalinowsky says she will run for mayor after battling with the mayor and fellow councilors over the city’s budget, which she says needs to be cut to help “hurting” taxpayers. The Berkshire Eagle’s Meg Britton-Mehlisch notes the mayoral race now has four contenders, even as Mayor Linda Tyer has yet to announce whether she’ll seek a third term. 

The Berkshire Eagle

Weekend political and policy talk shows

Keller@Large | 8:30 a.m. Sunday | WBZ-TV | Political analyst Jon Keller interviews MBTA General Manager Phil Eng to discuss the challenges he faces improving the system’s safety, performance and financial footing.

On The Record | 11 a.m. Sunday | WCVB-TV Superintendent of Boston Schools Mary Skipper is the guest this week. Ed Harding and Sharman Sacchetti host. Democratic Political Analyst Mary Anne Marsh and Republican Political Analyst Virginia Buckingham join the roundtable discussion.

Subscribe to MASSterList

Start your morning with MASSterList’s chronicle of news and informed analysis about politics, policy, media, and influence in Massachusetts. Plus, get an inside look at Beacon Hill’s hottest new job postings.

Erin Tiernan was a Editor and Author of MASSterList