Among his final actions in the 2020 legislative session, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 3121, which will commission a task force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans.
The approval is one of many bills signed by Newsom last night. However, AB 3121 stands out in particular, as pointed out by the Governor’s Office, for being “the first state in the nation to establish a task force to examine reparations for slavery, a reckoning with the past that is critical for a brighter future.”
The duties of the task force include compiling and analyzing the U.S.’s documentation of its slavery institution and recommending the form of awarded compensation and who would be eligible for such compensation. Such reparations would not replace reparations from the federal level.
— Ice Cube (@icecube) September 30, 2020
A path to making amends
The bill itself acknowledges that all levels of government continued brutal and unequal treatment of African Americans even after the abolition of slavery, which has resulted in continued economic, educational and health hardships to this day.
AB 3121 was first introduced by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber in February 2020. However, the conversation around reparations more recently sparked over the summer with Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan Beach, California. The Bruces, an African American couple, developed a beach resort, but were forced out by the Ku Klux Klan and Manhattan Beach City Council. A resident started a petition that, among other actions, called for the city to restore the land to the Bruce family and provide restitution for loss of value over 95 years.
— Asm. Shirley Weber (@AsmShirleyWeber) September 30, 2020
In January 2019, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee introduced H.R. 40, which would commission a similar study at the federal and state levels. It has not seen any movement since the House held hearings in June 2019.