A nation’s first task force in California to study and recommend reparations for African Americans held its inaugural meeting on Tuesday, kicking off a two-year process to tackle the harms of slavery and systemic racism despite inaction from the federal government.
The nine members of the task force, appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders, include descendants of slaves who are now prominent lawyers, academics and politicians. The group’s newly elected chairman is a young intellectual property lawyer, and its vice chairman is a longtime civil rights activist arrested along with Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. during an over-the-counter sit-in. lunch in 1961.
“I am so grateful to my ancestors, who survived so much trauma, so much suffering, so much tragedy, so much brutality, so that I could live,” said Lisa Holder, civil rights lawyer in Los Angeles. Angeles. “And I am ready to fight to bring them – our ancestors – justice.”
Tuesday’s meeting of the first state reparations committee in the United States came as President Joe Biden commemorated the lives of hundreds of blacks killed by a white mob in what was then a thriving African-American community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a century ago. It also comes just over a year after George Floyd, a black man, was murdered by a white police officer in Minnesota.
Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who as a member of the State Assembly drafted the state legislation creating the task force, noted the solemnity of the occasion as well as the possibility of right a historic wrong that continues today in the form of significant racial disparities in wealth, health and education. African Americans make up just 6% of California’s population, but made up 30% of the estimated 250,000 homeless people who sought help in 2020.
“Your task is to determine the depth of the evil and the means by which we must repair this evil,” said Weber, whose parents were sharecroppers forced to leave the South.
Critics have said California doesn’t have slaves like other states and shouldn’t have to study repairs – or pay for them. But Weber said the state is an economic powerhouse that can lead the way for a federal government that hasn’t been able to fix the problem. It would not replace any remedies agreed to by the federal government.
Members of the task force pointed out that black Americans have heard all their lives that they need to improve, but the truth is they have been held back by outright racism and discriminatory laws that have kept them from d ‘get conventional bank loans and buy houses. . Their neighborhoods in San Francisco and Los Angeles were razed in the name of development.
âWe lost more than we ever took from this country. We gave more than ever, âsaid task force member and state senator Steven Bradford. He would like to model a repairs program on the GI bill, allowing free college and home buying assistance.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a law granting $ 20,000 in reparations and a formal apology to every Japanese American incarcerated during World War II. But a federal slavery reparations bill, commonly known as HR 40, has dragged on in Congress since its introduction in 1989.
He walked out of the House Judiciary Committee in April, but he faces a high chance. The bill refers to the government’s failed efforts to provide 40 acres (16 hectares) of land to newly freed slaves after the Civil War ends.
Some people who called for the virtual meeting implored the group to make targeted proposals and cash payments to make the descendants of black slaves whole in particular.
“It’s really a question of lineage, it’s not just a question of color. The government has long overdue debt,” said Harriet Barton, a longtime resident of the San Fernando Valley, in southern California.
The tasks of the working group include summarizing discrimination against blacks in law and in the private and public sectors; calculate compensation and inform the public of its findings; and prepare an apology.
Newsom, a Democrat, issued a formal apology to Native American tribal leaders in 2019. He also announced the creation of a council to examine the role of the state in campaigns to exterminate and exploit indigenous peoples in the region. ‘State.