Reparations street mural now complete on Ellis Street

Neighbors on Ellis Street in South Berkeley completed a street mural over the weekend that spells out the words ‘Reparations Now!’ in giant colorful letters on the block between Prince Street and Ashby Avenue.

The neighbors who did the mural said a call for reparations to the victims of slavery and their descendants, was “necessary and appropriate” at this moment of nationwide calls for racial justice.

A bill on the study of reparations has been introduced in Congress every year between 1989 and 2019, first by the late Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan and founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and more recently by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, a Democrat from Texas. The idea of the bill becoming law seemed remote, however. But recently the concept has gained political traction. Last year a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee held a first-of-its-kind hearing on reparations. How they would be implemented is unclear, although there are precedents, including the reparations made to Japanese Americans and their heirs who were interned by the US, and the reparations paid by Germany to victims of the Holocaust.

This is the third giant street mural to have been painted in Berkeley since the killing of George Floyd in May. Last month, Berkeley High students painted ‘Black Lives Matter’ on Allston Way at the end of a protest march and the city had ‘Ohlone Territory’ painted on Milvia Street.