Win for Reparations: California Assembly Committee Votes Yes on Bill

Tanu Henry | California Black Media

On May 11, the California Assembly Judiciary Committee voted yes on a bill that would mandate the state to set up an 8-member commission to examine how California engaged in — and benefited from — the enslavement of Black men, women and children.

If the bill, AB 3121, passes, it would charge the commission with coming up with proposals for redressing the “negative effects of slavery,” which could include direct payments to Black Californians.

“California was nominally a ‘free state,’ but in practice we allowed slavery within our borders even after statehood, while runaway slaves were often denied sanctuary by the courts,” said Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), author of AB 3121 and chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC).

At the committee hearing for the bill, Weber said the legislation is the number one priority of the CLBC.

“After emancipation, California and local municipalities allowed or even actively pursued discriminatory practices akin to those found in the South to deny former slaves and their descendants access to housing, quality education, employment, fair wages, voting rights and the practice of professions,” Weber added in an impassioned statement to her colleagues.

AB 3121, titled the “Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans,” passed along party lines.

The three Republicans on the Judiciary Committee voted no on the bill. They are Vice Chair James Gallagher (R-Yuba City); Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin); and Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake).

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