Panel would study the effects slavery had on California — and recommend compensation

The California Senate advanced AB 3121 — Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans in a 33-3 bipartisan vote Saturday.

The state Assembly must now vote on the measure before adjourning for the year. The Assembly previously voted in favor of an earlier version of the bill.

A nine-person panel would be created to study the effects slavery had on California and recommend to the legislature no later than 2023 what type of compensation would be appropriate, how it might be dispersed and who could be eligible to receive it.

“Let’s be clear: Chattel slavery, both in California and across our nation, birthed a legacy of racial harm and inequity that continues to impact the conditions of Black life in California,” state Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, said, citing higher rates of incarceration, homelessness and unemployment for African-Americans.

American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) California welcomed Senate passage of AB 3121.

“Senate passage of AB 3121 brings our great state of California one step closer to finally confronting its legacy of supporting the institution of Slavery, Jim Crow and ongoing racial exclusion,” ADOS officials stated in a press release. “We thank Assemblywoman Dr. Shirley Weber for her leadership in spearheading the passage of AB 3121. Likewise, we thank Senator’s Steven Bradford and Holly Mitchell for their tireless efforts to ensure the Bill’s safe passage through the California Senate. We thank Governor Gavin Newsom for his support along the way.”

The bill would require the commission to study the lingering impact of slavery in the state and make recommendations to lawmakers by July 2023. The recommendations should include details on what form of compensation should be awarded as well as its recipients. The commission would begin its meetings no later than June 2021 and could also recommend alternate forms of redress.

Texas, New York and Vermont have considered similar bills in recent years. Advocates have said that reparations could also take the form of student loan forgiveness, housing assistance, community investments or job training.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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