Associated Press, June 9, 2023
New York would create a commission to consider reparations to address the lingering, negative effects of slavery under a bill passed by the state Legislature on Thursday.
“We want to make sure we are looking at slavery and its legacies,” said state Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages before the floor debate. “This is about beginning the process of healing our communities. There still is generational trauma that people are experiencing. This is just one step forward.”
The state Assembly passed the bill about three hours after spirited debate on Thursday. The state Senate passed the measure hours later, and the bill will be sent to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul for consideration.
New York would be following the lead of California, which became the first state to form a reparations task force in 2020. That groupfrom the state on its legacy of racism and discriminatory policies and the creation of an agency to provide a wide range of services for Black residents. They did not recommend specific payments amounts for reparations.
The New York legislation would create a commission that would examine the extent to which the federal and state governments supported the institution of slavery. It would also address persistent economic, political and educational disparities experienced by Black people in the state today.
The commission would be required to deliver a report one year after its first meeting. The panel’s recommendations, which could potentially include monetary compensation for Black people, would be non-binding. The legislature would not be required to take the recommendations up for a vote.
New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who is the first Black person to hold the position, called the legislation “historic.”