California reparations payouts on hold, but state moves toward apology for slavery

The California Senate held up plans to dole out reparations payouts to its citizens, but the Assembly voted to formally apologize for the state’s role in slavery.

The California Assembly passed a bill Thursday that will accept responsibility for “all of the harms and atrocities committed by the state” and will head to the Senate, the Los Angeles Times reported. AB 3089 was passed unanimously among Democrats, but some Republicans abstained from voting.

“It is undeniable that our systems of government have been complicit in the oppression of African Americans. … California’s history is tarnished by the subjugation of Black people,” Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas said in support of the bill, the LA Times reported. “It is a wound that still needs to heal.”

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A large crowd of protesters wearing masks carry signs that say, “Reparations Now” as they walk through neighborhoods at the Black Lives Matter protest in Bayside, Queens. (Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

“Not only is the apology letter important … it’s whether or not we go ahead and fulfill the dream of what my ancestors wanted, which is to fully make us part of the American dream,” the author of the bill, California Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, said on the assembly floor, the LA Times reported.

California introduced a series of reparations bills in January that would give property tax and cash payouts to the descendants of slaves, but that plan was put on hold Thursday during the Senate fiscal process, with legislators citing the state’s massive budget deficit, the LA Times reported.

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“The next couple of years will be difficult for the legislative and budget processes,” said State Sen. Anna Caballero, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Finding balance will be critical to ensure that we can continue to make our government work efficiently and prudently.”

Long-time Los Angeles resident, Walter Foster, 80, holds up a sign as the Reparations Task Force meets to hear public input on reparations at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on Sept. 22, 2022. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The controversial cash compensation proposal made headlines last year after the state’s reparations task force, aimed at informing lawmakers on how to best implement reparations, recommended payments given to Black residents based on the type of historical discrimination their family faced.

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But that did not make it into the proposed bill, which made no mention of providing cash payment to descendants of slaves and others historically discriminated against by the government.

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“We know we build generational wealth through home ownership, and African Americans have been denied home ownership since the Emancipation Proclamation. Their freedom, it was about land,” said Democratic state Sen. Steven Bradford, who authored two reparations bills that were held back.

Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher called slavery “a terrible stain on our history” but didn’t support parts of the bill that said the state is still denying Black residents some rights and that police shootings are “state-sanctioned violence,” the LA Times reported.

“We have made tremendous progress toward a more equal society,” Gallagher said.

Kendall Tietz is a Production Assistant with Fox News Digital. 

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