California considers reparations for slavery – The Mercury News


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers are setting up a task force to study and make recommendations for reparations for African Americans, especially descendants of slaves, as the nation again grapples with rights civilians and the unrest following the latest police shooting of a Black man.

The state Senate backed the creation of the nine-member commission in a 33-3 bipartisan vote on Saturday. The measure returns to the Assembly for a final vote before lawmakers adjourn for the year on Monday, although Assembly members have already overwhelmingly approved an earlier version of the bill.

“Let’s be clear: chattel slavery, both in California and in our country, has spawned a legacy of racial prejudice and inequality that continues to impact the lives of black people in California. “said Democratic Senator Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles.

She cited disproportionate homelessness, unemployment, involvement in the criminal justice system, lower educational outcomes and higher health risks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Although pre-Civil War California was officially a free state, Mitchell listed the legal and judicial steps state officials took at the time to support slavery in southern states while suppressing black people. .

The legislation would require the task force to conduct a detailed study of the impact of slavery in California and recommend to the Legislature by July 2023 what form of compensation should be awarded, how it should be awarded and who should be eligible. compensation.

The panel, which would begin meeting no later than June 2021, could also recommend other forms of rehabilitation or redress.

Over the past two years, Texas, New York and Vermont have considered similar legislation, according to a legislative analysis. He said reparations could come in the form of cash, housing assistance, reduced tuition fees, student loan forgiveness, job training or community investments, for example.

Sen. Steven Bradford, a Gardena Democrat who backed the bill, said he only wanted it to be more than a study.

He noted that Friday marked the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“If the 40 acres and a mule that were promised to freed slaves were delivered to the descendants of those slaves today, we would all be billionaires,” Bradford said. “I hear way too many people say, ‘Well, I didn’t have slaves, that was so long ago.’ Well, you inherit the wealth – you can inherit the debt you owe African Americans.


The invoice is AB3121.

Pamela W. Robbins