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California Task Force Convenes To Study Reparations For African Americans

In this June 11, 2020, file photo, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, wears a face mask as she calls on lawmakers to create a task force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans, during the Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli / AP
In this June 11, 2020, file photo, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, wears a face mask as she calls on lawmakers to create a task force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans, during the Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif.

As the nation marked the anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre, California officials virtually convened Tuesday for the first meeting of the California Task Force to Study Reparations for African Americans.

“We are here today because the racism of slavery birthed an unjust system and a legacy of racial harm and an inequality that continues today in every aspect of our life," said Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who wrote the bill to create the committee while she was still an assemblymember.

California Task Force Convenes To Study Reparations For African Americans
Listen to this story by Melissa Mae.

The nine-person committee, which includes San Diego City Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe, will study California’s complicity in slavery, develop proposals for what reparations might look like for descendants of enslaved people and determine who might get paid.

Video: California Task Force Convenes To Study Reparations For African Americans

The task force is the first of its kind in any state.

“So, that makes it a historic moment in the over 400 years of African Americans in this country,” Weber said.

Weber’s father was a sharecropper in Hope, Arkansas. She said he was denied the opportunity to grow economically because he was forced to harvest other's crops before his own.

“Despite all of his honest efforts that were there, he was still being stepped on, and when he stood up for himself, his life was threatened," Weber said. "That’s the story of African Americans in this country.”

She said such actions were sanctioned by the government, making reparations in 2021 very important.

“Time for folks to acknowledge the harm that’s been done. The harm that continues to be done," Weber said. "That it’s not that far of a difference what happened to my father in Hope, Arkansas and what happened to George Floyd and what happens to so many others in this country."

The task force has two years to develop and create reparation proposals, which could include direct cash payments, subsidized education or health care or assistance for down payments on housing.

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