The state of California might be one step closer to passing a historic proposal that could make reparations for Black Americans a reality. On March 30, California’s reparations task force, which was established back in 2020, voted to make state compensation eligible to Black Californias who are descendants of slaves in the U.S.
Taskforce members finally hashed out a decision on Tuesday, with a tight 5- 4 vote after hours of deliberation and emotional testimonies. Plans remain unclear as to how much restitution will be given to eligible Black Americans in the state, a matter that San Francisco NAACP President, Rev. Amos Brown pled with committee members to finalize.
“Please, please, please I beg us tonight, take the first step,” Brown, who is also the vice-chair of the task force, said, AP News reported. ”We’ve got to give emergency treatment to where it is needed.”
According to Call Matters, Tuesday’s big vote established that Black Californians “who are able to trace their lineage back to enslaved ancestors will be eligible for the state’s reparations.” Other Black residents in the state, such as immigrants would be ineligible to receive payments, although a few politicians present at the meeting argued that restitution should be made available to all Black Americans in the state.
“We need to galvanize the base and that is Black people,” civil rights attorney and task force member Lisa Holder argued.“We can’t go into this reparations proposal without having all African Americans in California behind us.” The official proposed that the task force should use California’s 2.6 million Black residents to calculate a proper compensation plan as they continue to draw up an effective proposal.
California’s reparations task force has served as a use case for other states looking to explore slavery’s past and how to pay it forward to Black Americans who are still impacted by history’s harsh societal impact. Back in February, the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island announced the launch of a reparations commission. While officials from Boston are currently considering creating one for their own state.
California’s governor signed legislation to spearhead the two-year task force back in 2020 with the mission of examining slavery’s legacy in America and its effects on Black Americans. Taskforce members have spent the last 10 months discussing a myriad of topics from Jim Crow Laws and redlining to housing discrimination and environmental racism, all of which have severely hindered the rights of Black Americans living in California.