California Reparations Task Force Concluded

The California reparations task force last week concluded two years of hard work with a 1,100-page, comprehensive report that details the harms of slavery on Black people from California, recommendations of financial compensation and the creation of a myriad of programs and policies to redress the historical wrongs, NBC News reported.

The report – compiled through exhaustive research by politicians, historians and economists and swayed by comments from the community over 12 public hearings – is encyclopedic in size. It has been hailed by task force members as a blueprint for other states to follow in the pursuit of reparations.

Sen. Steven Bradford and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer are also members of the California Legislature, which has been charged with digesting the report and finalizing recommendations to be submitted to Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign into law. The really hard part for Bradford and Jones-Sawyer will be garnering their colleagues’ support for reparations.

The difficulty is not lost on the two veteran politicians whose presence for two years on the task force gives them unparalleled insight for the upcoming battle.

“Absolutely, it will not be easy,” Jones-Sawyer said. “But we are up for the fight.”

Step One: Getting all the state Assembly members to read the full report – presented in hardback form – That alone could be a substantial hurdle to clear, Bradford said.

The depth of this report called “a book of truth,” by task force member Lisa Holder, makes a thorough case for reparations as a way to make amends for California’s role in oppressing Black people through the remnants, policies, attitude, and discrimination of slavery. The recommendations in the final report provide the “scholarly foundation,” task force member Don Tamaki said, to advance reforms in health care, housing, criminal justice, education and other areas “with continuing, persistent racial disparities.” Task force members believe the power of the report will be significant.

“In looking at this, you have to first admit to the wrongs, and that’s the first challenge we have,” Bradford said. “And then its about coming up with real atonement, real policies that help address some of the harms done to Black people in California.”

The Sacramento Observer reported that the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans delivered its final report to the California Legislature two days before the July 1 deadline.

The nine-member committee submitted a 1075-page, brown-and-gold hardcover book with a comprehensive reparations plan that includes more than 115 recommendations and a survey. Published by the California Department of Justice, the report documents the harms that enslaved ancestors of Black Californians experienced during chattel slavery and due to Jim Crow laws that followed. It also details the history of discriminatory state policies in California.

Each page of the report is 40 chapters, beginning with an Introduction; followed by evidence of Enslavement; Racial Terror; Political Disenfranchisement; Housing Segregation; Separate and Unequal Education; Racism in the Environment and Infrastructure; Pathologizing the African American Family; Control Over Creative, Cultural, and Intellectual Life; Stolen Labor; and Hindered Opportunity.

The task force decided on March 30, 2022, that lineage will determine who will be eligible for compensation, specifically, individuals who are Black descendants of enslaved people in the United States. If reparations become law, a proposed California American Freedman Affairs Agency would be responsible for identifying past harms and preventing future occurrences.

The specialized office, with additional branches across the state, would facilitate claims for restitution, process claims with the state, and assist claimants in proving eligibility through a “genealogy” department.

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