A task force examining reparations for Black residents in California released its final report Thursday with more than 115 recommendations for how the state should compensate those harmed by slavery and “historical atrocities.”
Recommendations in the landmark report, comprised of more than 1,000 pages, include a formal apology on behalf of California to descendants of people enslaved in the United States and recommendations for reforms linked to health care, housing, education and criminal justice, among other areas.
The drafters of the report, which will be shared with the California State Legislature by July 1, hope it serves as a blueprint for future laws.
“We’re putting before the legislators in California the challenge to come up with a feasible way to address these issues over the years,” Don Tamaki, an attorney and task force member, told CNN. “To ignore them is to just invite not only the harm to continue, but to grow worse. We need to start this process.”
Tamaki said the task force members hope lawmakers commit to an effort that takes several years.
“These are harms that were literally centuries in the making,” said Tamaki. “So the repairs have to be long in the implementation.”
While the task force is recommending monetary compensation for those impacted, it did not provide a specific amount that should be paid. The amount should be determined by lawmakers, the task force said.
The task force hired a panel of experts, including economists, to calculate what Black Californians have endured. Through their formula, they determined that an eligible person could be owed up to an estimated $1.2 million.
In the case of monetary reparations, only those individuals who can demonstrate that they are the descendant of either an enslaved African American in the US or a free African American living in the US prior to 1900 should be eligible, the report says.
The task force also included ways to calculate reparations due to health disparities, mass incarceration and over-policing, housing discrimination and devaluation of African American businesses, according to the report.
“No, it isn’t just about a check in the mail,” Tamaki said. “It’s about everything else that’s created the disparities that we’re seeing today.”
In addition to the recommendations, the document details hundreds of years of enslavement, “racial terror and legal segregation” and discrimination that Black people in California and across the country have experienced.
The full implementation of these proposals could cost billions of dollars, according to experts. But at this point, there is no guarantee that all or any of the proposals will be passed by the California Legislature and signed into law by the governor, nor is there a timetable.
“At its core, the task force’s finding is clear. Reparations for African Americans are appropriate. They are warranted. They are necessary. They are needed,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta during Thursday’s final meeting. “It’s time for California to begin remedying the debilitating economic, educational, and health hardships uniquely experienced by African Americans – hardships we unequivocally know are the results of centuries of slavery and discrimination.”
During the public comment portion of Thursday’s meeting in Sacramento, speakers thanked task force members for their yearslong work, recalled memories and names of their ancestors and urged lawmakers to support the proposal.
Attendees also stood up and chanted “What do we want? Reparations! When do we want it? Now!”
The state’s Black population includes more than 2.5 million people.
The task force was created in 2020 after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill to establish the panel. Since then, the task force has held numerous public meetings, including more than 28 hours of public comments, and heard from 133 experts and witnesses.
Kamilah Moore, the chairperson of the panel, said she hopes their efforts reinvigorate the Black community to exercise “self-determination with a renewed spirit and energy that enables us to freely determine our political status and to pursue our economic social and cultural development.”
“We have been relegated to the bottom of the caste system in this country,” Moore said, noting that the final report also highlights the unjust treatment of other racial and ethnic groups in the state. “It is also my hope that the task force’s general efforts empowers these groups in their respective advocacy and ultimately strengthens the capacity for cross cultural allyship and movement building.”