California Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a Democrat from San Diego and Legislative Black Caucus head, wrote a bill that passed yesterday to establish a task force to study and prepare recommendations for how to give reparations to African Americans.
Weber said about the proposal, “The discriminatory practices of the past echo into the everyday lives of today’s Californians. We seem to recognize that justice requires that those who have been treated unjustly need the means to make themselves whole again.”
She believes that the study would reiterate California’s history of abetting slavery, even as it joined the union as a “free state” in 1850.
The bill advanced with a 56-5 vote as protests nationwide over police brutality re-energized the movement for racial justice and activists pressed for sweeping reforms. It is a top priority for California’s Legislative Black Caucus.
If the bill passes the Senate and is signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, eight people with backgrounds in racial justice reforms would lead a study into who would be eligible for compensation and how it should be awarded.
The panel would start meeting no later than June 2021
Congress last June held the first hearing on reparations in over a decade about a bill to study providing compensation to atone for the country’s history of slavery. But the legislation did not make it to a vote.
According to Lisa Holder, an attorney who teaches about civil rights at UCLA School of Law, “The panel’s top matter will be how it lays out the case for justifying reparations, 155 years after slavery was abolished.”
Holder added that since African Americans still deal with racial discrimination “the response really has to be framed around the issue of continuing racial injustice that started back in 1619 when Africans were stolen from Africa and brought here as enslaved people. Then you don’t get into this messy, unintelligible notion of who is directly linked to a slave.”
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