A Roundup of 2024 Reparations Measures by Susan Panttaja

When the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans published the California Reparations Report last summer, they laid the groundwork for what will be a long-term project to enact meaningful reparations in the state and improve the quality of life for Californians – both the descendants of African Americans, who were most harmed by racism, and the rest of us, because we all benefit in a more just society.

This Reparations Report includes, among other things, specifics about a formal apology from the State for “the perpetration of gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity against African enslaved people and their descendants.”[1] It also recommended over 100 “appropriate remedies” the State could take to address these harms.

I am interested in how the recommendations in the Reparations Report will be implemented, so I took a look at the bills that were introduced during the current legislative year. The Legislative Black Caucus submitted 14 measures in their 2024 Reparations Priority Bill Package, in the areas of education, civil rights, criminal justice reform, health, and business. You can read more about them HERE. Assembly Bill (AB) 3089 “issues a formal apology for human rights violations and crimes against humanity on African slaves and their descendants” and Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 135 “(f)ormally recognizes and accepts responsibility for all of the harms and atrocities committed by representatives of the state who promoted, facilitated, enforced and permitted the institution of chattel slavery.” The other measures address specific harms or inequities.

At least three additional measures were introduced this year: Senate Bill (SB) 1403 would create the California American Freedmen Affairs Agency to  implement recommendations in the Reparations Report that are approved by the legislature and government. The agency would be comprised of a genealogy office and office of legal affairs. SB 1331 would establish the Fund for Reparations and reparative Justice in the state treasury. This bill currently does not include a funding mechanism. Finally, SB 1050 requires the Freedmen Affairs Agency to compensate families of dispossessed owners who had property taken from them through racially motivated eminent domain.

These measures have been moving through the legislature. Most are currently in the Appropriations Committee. I wish I knew what will happen to them. All I do know is that August 31 is the last day for the legislature to pass bills and September 30 is the last day for the governor to sign or veto them. The large state budget deficit we keep hearing about will certainly have an impact on how many of these measures might go into effect in the near future.

What can you do to support these measures?

  • Attend the online presentation on reparations that RJA is sponsoring this Thursday, June 20, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. Our guest presenter will be Donald Tamaki, a member of the CA Reparations Task Force. Everyone is welcome. I hope to see you there!
  • Contact your state legislators and let them know you support these measures.
  • Have your organization endorse the California Reparations report. I am pleased to say that the Organizing Committee of Racial Justice Allies has already taken this step. You can find the list of endorsees HERE.
  • For more information, watch the video by ABC7 on three of the reparations bill that the Senate passed on to the Assembly this spring HERE.

[1] The California Reparations Report, https://oag.ca.gov/system/files/media/exec-summary-ca-reparations.pdf, page 4.

(Photo Credit: Creative Commons, File: Racial Justice)

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