California Assembly Passes Reparations Resolution

Person raising a fist by Oluwaseui - Johnson on Unsplash

The process the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) promised to initiate to pass a package of reparations bills began Feb. 26, on the Assembly floor at the State Capitol with the passage of Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 135, Antonio Ray Harvey reported for the Sacramento Observer.

Authored by Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-La. Mesa), ACR 135 — or the “Human rights violations and crimes against humanity on African slaves and their descendants” – recognizes the “harms and atrocities committed by representatives of the State of California who promoted, facilitated, enforced and permitted the institution of chattel slavery,” according to the language of the resolution.

The measure was unanimously approved with a 57-0 vote on the Assembly floor.

ACR 135 is not only a resolution to affirm the (California Reparations Task Force) report,” Weber said during her presentation on the Assembly floor. “It is also meant to educate ourselves in California’s history. Ida B. Wells wrote, ‘The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.’ The reparations task force turned the light on truth, and this is laid out in ACR 125.”

The nine-member reparations task force submitted a comprehensive 1,074-page report to the Legislature on June 28, 2023. The report contains the panel’s findings from a two-year study that involved investigations of harms, testimonies from community members, and up to 155 recommendations for compensation for eligible Black Californians.

On Jan. 31, the CLBC announced the introduction of the 2024 Reparations Priority Bill Package, which includes 14 pieces of legislation that represents the first step in a multi-year effort to implement the legislative recommendations in the report. ACR 15 was among the list of considerations.

Regarding the passage of significant legislation related to reparations for Black Californians, Weber is following in her mother’s footsteps.

Her mother, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, authored AB 3121, the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, as an Assemblymember representing the 79th District. This legislation was the first-in-the-nation bill created at the state level to study and recommend redress for past injustices against the descendants of African people enslaved in the United States.

During the announcement of the rollout of the bills on Feb. 21, CLBC Chair, Assemblymember Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), said the package was part of “30 reparations bills” the Black lawmakers are developing. A bill requesting a formal apology from the Governor and the Legislature for California’s historical injustices against African Americans is next in line, Wilson said.

The passage of ARC 135 will officially open discussions about reparations, Wilson said.

Candace McDuffie wrote on The Root, California has become the ninth state to issue Black residents a formal apology for years and years of racism. On Tuesday, Feb. 27, the San Francisco Board of Directors unanimously voted to acknowledge the role the city has played in sustaining decades of bigotry.

“This historic resolution apologizes on behalf of San Francisco to the African American community and their descendants for decades of systemic and structural discrimination, targeted acts of violence and atrocities as well as committing to the rectification and redress of past policies and misdeeds,” Supervisor Shamann Walton said in a statement.

In addition to the remorseful words, the African American Reparations Advisory Committee proposed that every Black adult that is eligible get a $5 million lump-sum cash payment as well as a guaranteed income of nearly $100,000 a year to fix San Francisco’s racial wealth gap. Racist policies, such as property redlining were found to be among the practices used to prevent Black residents from building generational wealth.

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