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Recap: The September Meeting Of The California Reparations Task Force

Recap: The September Meeting Of The California Reparations Task Force
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The California Reparations Task Force met for the third time on September 23rd and 24th. As usual, Elk Grove Tribune has your recap of the September meeting. Keep reading!

September Meeting: Community Engagement

California’s historic Reparations Task Force met over two days for almost seven hours each day last week. Notably, September’s meeting was the first two-day meeting held since the Task Force started meeting in June. Members voted in July to extend meetings from one day to two days for more public participation. Additionally, September’s meeting featured an hour of public comment to start the meeting, with each commenter given three minutes to share their thoughts. The Task Force also voted in July to extend the time for public comment from two minutes to three minutes each.

Much of the opening conversation at the September meeting focused on how the Task Force planned to engage Black California communities in its work over the next year and a half. Member Dr. Cheryl Grills presented a more detailed version of a community engagement plan for discussion. The plan calls for some 12 listening sessions over and above the Task Force’s 10 legally required public meetings. Dr. Grills’ plan also calls for UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center to help coordinate and facilitate community engagement across the state. The Task Force approved Dr. Grills’ plan.

September Meeting: Slavery & The Transatlantic Slave Trade

Kamm Howard, National Co-Chair of the National Coalition of Black For Reparations (NCOBRA), testified about ongoing national efforts to achieve Reparations. NCOBRA helped author H.R.40, the federal bill to study and develop Reparations for African Americans. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas re-introduced the bill in the House of Representatives this year. Senator Cory Booker in 2020 introduced the first-ever Senate companion bill to H.R.40, called S.40.

Other expert testimony included Dr. Daina Ramey Berry, who testified about Slavery as the foundation for systemic racism. In addition, the Task Force heard testimony from Douglas Blackmon, John Parman, Isabel Wilkerson, Lynn Hudson, Bertha Gorman, John A. Powell, Roy Brooks, and Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber.

Credit: California Black Women’s Health Project

September Meeting: Black Californian’s & The Great Migration

The September meeting also featured public testimony from descendants of some of California’s first Black families, including Jonathan Burgess and Dawn Basciano. Both testified about how their families had land and other wealth stolen from them by the state.

CA Reparations Task Force September Meeting Day 1 Part 1: Credit: ETM Media Group

September Meeting: Revealing California’s Role In Slavery & Jim Crow

The California Reparations Task Force also heard expert testimony from Professor Dr. Stacey Smith who testified about California’s history with Slavery and Jim Crow. Yes, there was Slavery in California. In fact, Black enslaved people were in the territory that would later become California, as well as after the state formed. Black enslaved persons worked in the gold mines, fields, railroads, and elsewhere. California also excluded Free Blacks from entering the state, and, by law, returned all runaway enslaved persons to their owners in the South. Dr. Smith also told the Task Force that California did not approve the 13th, 14th, and 15th (Reconstruction/Anti-Slavery) amendments to the Consitution in the 1860s until 100 years later, in 1959. The California Supreme Court, in the 1850s, also set the example for what would later become the famous Dred Scott case, which said that Black people had no rights under the U.S Constitution.

CA Reparations Task Force September Meeting Day 1 Part 2: Credit: ETM Media Group
CA Reparations Task Force September Meeting Day 2 Part 1: Credit: ETM Media Group
CA Reparations Task Force September Meeting Day 2 Part 2: Credit: ETM Media Group

The California Reparations Task Force meetings again on Tuesday, October 12th, and Wednesday, October 13th.

About The California Reparations Task Force

California first in the nation Reparations Task Force met once in June, once in July, and again on September 23rd and 24th. The Task Force needs to meet publicly at least 10 times over the next two years, according to AB3121, the law that created it. Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB3121 in 2020. Generally, the Task Force has three jobs: Gather evidence of Slavery and Jim Crow in California and beyond, educate the public about its findings, and create Reparations proposals.

For more info about the California Reparations Task Force, visit https://oag.ca.gov/ab3121. You can email the Task Force directly with your comments at ReparationsTaskForce@doj.ca.gov.

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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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