“California tries to lead the way in terms of civil rights, and we have a responsibility to do that,” said the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber.
— Alicia Victoria Lozano, NBC News
California on Wednesday became the first state to adopt a law paving the way for Black residents and descendants of slaves to receive reparation payments.
The legislation, which was authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a Democrat representing San Diego who is chair of California’s Legislative Black Caucus, does not commit to any specific payment. Instead, it establishes a nine-person task force that will study the impact of slavery on Black people in California and recommend to the Legislature what kind of compensation should be provided, who should receive it and what form it will take.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the law Wednesday afternoon.
— Credits & Context
Reparations for slavery is the application of the concept of reparations to victims of slavery and/or their descendants. There are concepts for reparations in legal philosophy and reparations in transitional justice. In the US, reparations for slavery have been both given by legal ruling in court and/or given voluntarily (without court rulings) by individuals and institutions.
This idea has been recurring in the politics of the United States, from the 1865 Special Field Orders No. 15 (“Forty acres and a mule“) to the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries. The idea of reparations remains highly controversial.
The first known case of reparations for slavery in the United States was in 1783 to Belinda Royall in the form of a pension, and since then it has been and continues to be proposed and/or given in a variety of forms.
Forms of reparations which have been proposed or given in the United State by city, county, state, and national governments or private institutions include: individual monetary payments, settlements, scholarships, waiving of fees, and systemic initiatives to offset injustices, land-based compensation related to independence, apologies and acknowledgements of the injustices, tokenary measures (such as naming a building after someone), and the removal of monuments and streets named to slave owners and defenders of slavery.
Since further injustices and discrimination have continued since slavery was explicitly legal in the US, reparations for non-slavery related injustices have also been called for along-side slavery related reparations by black communities and civil rights organizations. Some suggest that the U.S. prison system starting with the convict lease system and continuing through the present-day government-owned corporation Federal Prison Industries (UNICOR), is a modern form of legal slavery that still primarily and disproportionately affects black populations and other minorities via the war on drugs and what has been criticized as a school-to-prison pipeline.
In 2020, the call for reparations in the US has been bolstered by protests of police brutality and other cases of systemic racism in the US. Calls for reparations for racism in the US are often made by black communities and authors alongside calls for reparations for slavery.
Source – Reparations for slavery in the United States (Updated: 25 September 2020) Wikipedia. Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reparations_for_slavery_in_the_United_States, (Accessed: 04 October 2020)