Roommates, the conversation about Black Americans receiving reparations for slavery is not new. Now, the state of California is taking the lead in turning conversation into action. Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders have established a task force that’ll study and recommend reparations for African Americans, according to ABC News. On Tuesday, the task force held its inaugural meeting. Nine people make up the task force and some include “descendants of slaves who are now prominent lawyers, academics and politicians.”
The process will take two years to complete with the team meeting periodically until July 2023. This committee is reportedly the “first state reparations committee in the U.S.” The state legislation was written by Secretary of State Shirley Weber during her time as a state assemblywoman. The task force will focus on providing summaries on discrimination against Black people, sharing their findings with the public, calculating the reparations and putting together a public apology.
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According to ABC News, critics of the legislation have argued that California did not have slaves and should not be studying or paying reparations. However, Shirley says that California can “point the way” for the federal government to pass legislation addressing slavery reparations.
“Some asked us why in California and why not somewhere else,” Shirley said. “Why did we not do this in the south? But we came to understand very clearly, California has the ability and the power to do it. And if not us, then who? We waited almost 40 years for Congress to basically pass HR 40.”
As you may know, back in 1989 a federal reparations bill known as H.R. 40 was introduced to Congress. The bill addresses the government’s inaction after the Civil War, when newly freed slaves were suppose to be provided with 40 acres of land. The bill has struggled for the last 40 years in getting the needed federal support. H.R. 40 passed through the House Judiciary Committee in April, but still faces decision-making from the House and Senate.
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