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California — which entered the union as a free state in 1850 — is moving forward with plans to implement slavery reparations for black Americans.
On Tuesday, a first-of-its-kind task force charged with studying the issue and developing proposals for redress convened for its inaugural meeting, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The task force is the result of a bill signed last year by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom that required members to draft a formal apology to black Americans and come up with various financial remedies for the lingering effects of discriminatory practices in the country.
“As our country reckons with our painful legacy of racial injustice, California again is poised to lead the way towards a more equitable and inclusive future for all,” Newsom said at the meeting.
California Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta added, “Although the horrors of slavery may have begun in the past, its harms are felt every single day by Black Americans in the present.”
“Yes, there has been progress in this country, but it has been all too uneven, and it has not moved fast enough,” he said. “We must move quickly. How much longer can we wait for justice? How much longer until we are able to truly fulfill the promise of the American dream that all are created equal and endowed with certain unalienable rights?”
“We have lost more than we have ever taken from this country,” task force member and state Sen. Steven Bradford said. “We have given more than has ever been given to us.”
The task force consists of nine members — five appointed by Newsom, two appointed by the state Senate, and two by the Assembly — and plans to meet at least 10 times before findings are due in July 2023.
The commission has drawn intense scrutiny from critics who question why Californians, who never held slaves, should have to pay for reparations in state where slavery was never officially practiced.
Republican state Rep. Tom McClintock perhaps said it best in a tweet posted following the passage of the bill last fall.
“Gavin Newsom has signed a bill to study taking the earnings of people who never owned slaves to pay people who never were slaves in a state that never practiced slavery in the first place. California and its governor are now officially [bats**t] crazy,” the representative wrote.
Gavin Newsom has signed a bill to study taking the earnings of people who never owned slaves to pay people who never were slaves in a state that never practiced slavery in the first place. California and its governor are now officially batsh!t crazy.
— Tom McClintock (@tommcclintock) October 1, 2020