Posted on October 1, 2020

Historic California Law Establishes Path to Reparations for Black People, Descendants of Slaves

Alicia Victoria Lozano, NBC News, September 30, 2020

California on Wednesday became the first state to adopt a law paving the way for Black residents and descendants of slaves to receive reparation payments.

The legislation, which was authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a Democrat representing San Diego who is chair of California’s Legislative Black Caucus, does not commit to any specific payment. Instead, it establishes a nine-person task force that will study the impact of slavery on Black people in California and recommend to the Legislature what kind of compensation should be provided, who should receive it and what form it will take.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law Wednesday afternoon.

“After watching last night’s debate, this signing can’t come too soon,” he said during a videoconference with lawmakers and other stakeholders, including the rapper Ice Cube, who used his celebrity to champion the bill.

“As a nation, we can only truly thrive when every one of us has the opportunity to thrive. Our painful history of slavery has evolved into structural racism and bias built into and permeating throughout our democratic and economic institutions,” Newsom said in a statement.

In a year filled with protests and calls for racial reckoning, the law received bipartisan support in the Legislature. Advocates hope that it will become a model for other states and that it will make amends not just for slavery, but also for some of the institutional practices that continue to disproportionately affect Black people in the U.S.