Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Tuesday said California is moving forward with efforts to create “a more equitable and inclusive future for all” at the first meeting of the state’s task force to study proposals for reparations for African Americans.
Newsom last year signed a bill approving the task force that will consider paying reparations for slavery. The statute requires a task force to make recommendations for lawmakers to address the findings by July 2023.
The recommendations are slated to include details on what form of compensation lawmakers should authorize, as well as who should receive those funds.
“With this bill, we’re bringing together some of the best, the brightest minds to chart a path forward, to move to a more equal California,” Newsom, who is facing a recall election later this year, said on Tuesday.
Newsom last month appointed five members to the task force, with the four other members appointed by California Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D) and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D).
California Attorney General Rob Bonta, who also spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, said, “Although the horrors of slavery may have begun in the past, its harms are felt every single day by Black Americans in the present.”
“Yes, there has been progress in this country, but it has been all too uneven, and it has not moved fast enough,” he said. “We must move quickly. How much longer can we wait for justice? How much longer until we are able to truly fulfill the promise of the American dream that all are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights?”
California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who authored the legislation when she was a state assemblywoman, called the first meeting “bittersweet,” coming on the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, in which a mob of white attackers killed Black residents and burned down several blocks of a thriving business district known as Black Wall Street.
“This is a bittersweet moment because as we sit here and begin to talk about reparations, we’re ever conscious of the fact that 100 years ago, a massacre occurred in Oklahoma, and this massacre was hid for so many years,” Weber said.
Federal legislation that would create an exploratory commission on reparations for Black Americans was approved in April by a House subcommittee for the first time. It has not received a vote on the House floor.