California Reparations Panel Approves Payments to Every Black Resident of up to $1.2 Million

The California Reparations Task Force formally approved and recommended the state offer payments of up to $1.2 million to every qualifying Black resident.

The task force had a public meeting Saturday in Oakland, California, and voted on a final set of recommendations to be sent on to the state’s legislators.

The nine-member panel called on the states to issue a formal apology accompanied by payments to Black residents.

“Reparations are not only morally justifiable, but they have the potential to address long-standing racial disparities and inequalities,” said Democrat Representative Barbara Lee after attending the meeting.

The panel’s recommendation breaks down the different types of historical discrimination. For example, Black residents affected by redlining by banks would receive $3,366 for each year lived in the state from the early 1930s to the last 1970s, which would amount to $148,099.

Similarly, Black residents could receive approximately $2,352 in compensation for mass incarceration and over-policing for each year they lived in California between 1970 and 2020. Those payments could reach $115,260.

In total, along with other payments included in the plan, a Black Californian who is 71 years old and is a lifelong California resident could receive up to $1.2 million, according to the New York Times analysis.

Saturday’s vote gave recommendations for the state to consider

The Saturday vote included recommendations for the state legislature to consider and had no legal weight. The meeting included opposition from some Black residents who demanded larger payments.

Reverend Tony Pierce, an activist, was one of the most outspoken people at the gathering and made reference to the famous “40 acres and a mule” promise made to formerly enslaved people when he came to the podium.

“You know that the numbers should be equivocal to what an acre was back then. We were given 40, OK? We were given 40 acres. You know what that number is. You keep trying to talk about now, yet you research back to slavery, and you say nothing about slavery, nothing,” Pierce said. “So, the equivocal number from the 1860s for 40 acres to today is $200 million for each and every African American.”

Most individuals who spoke at the Saturday meeting spoke of support for reparations. Despite the agreement, however, the gathering was emotionally charged as arguments broke out. Indeed, several attendees spoke out of turn, interrupting each other, and leading the task force chair, Kamilah Moore, to call for security to remove people several times.

The draft recommendation noted that although California entered the Union in 1850 as a free state, it said it did not pass laws at the time to guarantee freedom. The recommendation pointed out that the state continued to allow the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, which called for the capture and return of escaped enslaved people for a decade after emancipation.