— Shirley Weber, California secretary of state, addressing the Reparations Task Force
California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who wrote the legislation that established the state’s groundbreaking reparations task force as a state assemblywoman, made that plea Friday to the panel at the beginning of a two-day meeting in San Diego.
Weber’s Assembly Bill 3121 was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sept. 30, 2020. It established the first state-level task force to study and develop reparations for African-Americans because of slavery.
Under the law, the task force — which released a preliminary report last year — must submit its final report and recommendations to the state legislature by July 1.
Weber said Friday at the meeting at San Diego State University that the task force was addressing “some of the most important issues in the state.” She also mentioned the significant role she thinks California plays in the reparations movement.
She introduced the bill in the California legislature in 2020 because “the bill in D.C. once again had failed,” Weber said. “We never seem to get across the line and make progress.” So, she said, “California could do that. California is always the one that does the innovative things.”
See: California reparations push could give Black residents hundreds of thousands of dollars — here’s what they say they would do with it
Also: Reparations task force also wants to change California policies
Weber said California had the legislature to pass the bill at the time, and that she knew that the state has the resources to accomplish what needs to be done. She pointed to the state’s standing as one of the largest economies in the world, and its educational institutions that she called “second to none.” (Weber was an educator before she became an elected official.)
“We have the brainpower and knowledge to do this if we choose to,” she said.
The first publicly funded reparations program in the nation was passed in Evanston, Ill., and has begun to distribute money for housing-related purposes. Other local governments around the nation are considering or exploring their own reparations programs. The federal legislation on reparations, H.R. 40, has been introduced several times since 1989 but has never gotten anywhere.
See: ‘This is our shot’: Evanston’s road to reparations gets a documentary spotlight
Read More The California State Assembly recently took the groundbreaking step of introducing a resolution that would potentially provide reparations for the lasting effects of slavery on African-Americans. California State Assemblyman broadcasters, Ed Chau, author of the bill for reparations, believes the bill has the potential to be a “game-changer” for African-Americans in California.
Chau’s resolution aims to have the California legislature establish a task force that would recommend programs that the state could implement to provide reparations to African-Americans. The task force would be made up of representatives from various agencies, including the State Controller, the California Department of Finance and the California Department of Social Services. The task force would look into the economic impact of slavery and segregation, and provide a report on what reparation opportunities exist for African-Americans in the state.
The proposal also calls for the task force to make specific recommendations on how the state can compensate African-Americans for the unique history of slavery and segregation, including providing access to well-paid employment, access to higher education and capital to help develop businesses.
In making the case for reparations, Chau emphasizes that inequality in the economy, from a lack of access to capital to lower wages, remains a large problem for African-Americans in California. By establishing a task force to look into reparations for African-Americans, Chau hopes to make a significant impact.
“This is a moral question and an economic opportunity,” Chang said. “We must acknowledge past wrongs and then work to correct them. This is an opportunity to create more economic and educational opportunity for a population for centuries denied it. We are changing the game and building a better future together.”
Chau’s resolution has been applauded by numerous advocacy groups, including the NAACP and the California Justice Project, who have declared their support for the bill. The resolution is currently working its way through the State Assembly and, if approved, could go a long way in providing reparative justice to African-Americans in California.