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California Moves Forward With Apologies, Reparations To Its Black Residents

The state of California is showing signs of progress – maybe.


Last weekend, California’s reparations task force voted to approve recommendations “on how the state may compensate and apologize to Black residents for generations of harm caused by discriminatory policies,” according to The Associated Press.

First convened nearly two years ago, the nine-member committee gave the final approval to a list of proposals that go to lawmakers in an effort to consider reparation legislation.

Cosponsoring a bill in Congress to study restitution proposals for African Americans, U.S. Rep Barbara Lee at the meeting called on the states and the federal government to go forth with the reparations legislation, according to The Associated Press.

Reparations are not only morally justifiable, but they have the potential to address longstanding racial disparities and inequalities,” Lee said.

In the panel’s first vote that was approved, a detailed account of discrimination historically against Black Californians in areas such as voting, housing, education, disproportionate policing and incarcerations and others was at the forefront.

Other recommendations on the table were the new agency to provide services to descendants of slaved people and “calculations on what the state owes them in compensation."

“An apology and an admission of wrongdoing just by itself is not going to be satisfactory,” said Chris Lodgson, an organizer with the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California, a reparations advocacy group.”

According to the draft recommendation approved by the task force, an apology developed by lawmakers must include a censure of the gravest barbarities.

That would include the condemnation of former Gov. Peter Hardeman Burnett, a white supremacist who was the state’s first elected governor and who encouraged laws to exclude Black people from the state of California.

Following California entering the union in 1850 as a “free” state, it did not have any laws to guarantee freedom for all, according to the draft recommendation notes. In fact, on the contrary, the state Supreme Court enforced the federal Fugitive Slave Act, which enabled the capture and return of runaway enslaved people.

“By participating in these horrors, California further perpetuated the harms African Americans faced, imbuing racial prejudice throughout society through segregation, public and private discrimination, and unequal disbursal of state and federal funding,” the document says.

In an effort to right the wrongs, the task force approved a public apology that would acknowledge the state’s responsibility for past wrongs, promising California will not repeat them. This apology would be issued in the presence of people who have ancestors that were enslaved.

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