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Previewing California’s Historic Task Force To Study & Develop Reparations Proposals For African American U.S Slavery Descendants

Previewing California’s Historic Task Force To Study & Develop Reparations Proposals For African American U.S Slavery Descendants

The eyes of the country are on California as it takes on Reparations for African American U.S. Slavery Descendants. In less than three weeks, California’s historic Reparations Task Force goes to work. A first of its kind, the nine-member Task Force created by Assembly Bill or AB 3121 looks to deal once and for all with U.S Slavery, California’s role, as well as how the legacy of U.S Slavery affects descendants today. California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber, a former state Assemblymember from San Diego, led the effort to pass AB 3121. The state Reparations Task Force is similar to the Commission called for by national Reparations legislation H.R.40 and its Senate twin S.40, both moving through Congress. H.R.40 recently moved further in Congress than any Reparations legislation in history.

Organizers from The Coalition for a Just and Equitable California (CJEC) helped pass California’s Reparations Task Force law. CJEC fights for Reparations and Reparative Justice at the state level. According to a CJEC spokesperson:

California’s historic Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African American U.S Slavery Descendants is long overdue and a step in the right direction. Hundreds of community members across the state helped make it happen. We see and thank them. Now, we look forward to working with the Task Force to ensure it is open and responsive to community voices. Likewise, we look forward to helping ensure the Task Force’s report includes proposals based on sound Reparations principles that we can enact.

Coalition for a Just and Equitable California
A black miner in the northern Sierra foothills in 1852.
California State Library

What Will The California Reparations Task Force Do?

California is leading the nation, in a bipartisan way, on the issue of reparations and racial justice, which is a discussion that is long overdue and deserves our utmost attention. Last year, I signed into law a number of key bills focused on leveling the playing field in our society and ensuring that everyone has a fair shot at achieving the California dream. Today’s appointment of individuals with an expansive breadth of knowledge, experiences and understanding of issues impacting the African American community is the next step in our commitment as a state to build a California for all.

California Governor Gavin Newsom
White and African-American miners in El Dorado County in 1852.
California State Library

According to law, California’s Reparations Task Force has three jobs. First, find and put together the records and evidence of Slavery. Next, recommend ways to educate the California public about its findings, as well as what remedies are needed. The Task Force is focused on African American U.S Slavery Descendants. A written report of the Task Force’s findings is due next year.

Who’s On California’s Reparations Task Force?

Most of the Task Force’s members are known to the public. AB 3121 gave Governor Gavin Newsom the power to choose five of the nine. State Senate Leader Toni Atkins and Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon each chose two members.

Advertisement for black slave, originally published in San Francisco Herald

The five individuals selected by the Governor to serve on this task force represent diverse backgrounds and meet the statutes required by law, which include choosing one candidate from the field of academia with expertise in civil rights and an additional two appointees selected from major civil society and reparations organizations that have historically championed the cause of reparatory justice. Other key factors considered for committee candidates included a background in economics and community development, health and psychology, law and criminal justice, faith-based and community activism, and an expertise in the historic achievement of reparatory justice.

Office Of Governor Gavin Newsom
“ In 1850, Nancy (Ross) Gooch (center) was brought to California by her owner, leaving her only son behind in Missouri. After she was freed by laws prohibiting slavery in California, she was able to buy her son’s (Andrew...
California State Library: In 1850, Nancy (Ross) Gooch (center) was brought to California by her owner, leaving her only son behind in Missouri.

Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced his picks for the Task Force. Read his choices below:

  • Dr. Cheryl N. Grills, Ph.D., 62, of Inglewood
  • Dr. Amos C. Brown, Th.D., 80, of San Francisco
  • Lisa Holder, J.D., 49, of Los Angeles
  • Donald K. Tamaki, J.D., 69, of Piedmont
  • Jovan S. Lewis, Ph.D., 38

Other known members of the Task Force include California Senator Steven Bradford and Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe of San Diego.

Learn More About California’s Reparations Task Force

Click here to read California’s Reparations Task Force law. Click here to read about Governor Gavin Newsom’s picks for California’s Reparations Task Force. Be sure to follow Elk Grove Tribune closely for all your California Reparations Task Force updates.

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About The Author

Chris Lodgson

Chris Lodgson our News & Events Editor. Chris is a researcher and regulatory analyst at a legal information company, where he creates and delivers legal content on current issues on a daily basis. Originally from New York City, he's also a local organizer, business owner, and social media-marketer supporting Sacramento County Black-owned businesses.

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