‘We Have Given Our Lives’: Shirley Weber’s African-American Reparations Bill Passes California Assembly

‘We Have Given Our Lives’: Shirley Weber’s African-American Reparations Bill Passes California Assembly

The African-American Reparations Bill has passed the California Assembly. The next step is a reparations feasibility study to begin no later than June 2021. Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego proposes restricting when police officers can fire their weapons, during a news conference, April 3, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, a Democrat from San Diego who heads the Legislative Black caucus, has spent months pushing for a reparations bill to be considered by the California Assembly.

On June 11, the assembly passed the bill she wrote. The African American Reparation Bill calls for the establishment of a task force to study and prepare recommendations on how to give reparations to African Americans. 

The bill moved forward with a 56-to-5 vote.

“While we fight for the solution, we know that the solution lies in the changing of this nation and for those who don’t look like us to, for once, take the banner up and fight the battle that is so essential,” Weber said in an LA Times interview when she first introduced the bill. “We have fought it. We have given our lives. We have given all that we have. We have given the moral conscience to this nation about what is right and what is just, and at the same time as we do all of that, we still find ourselves the last one in the door.”

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If the bill passes the Senate and is signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom, eight people with backgrounds in racial justice reforms will be tasked with examining how compensation should be awarded and who will receive it, CBS Sacramento reported.

How the panel lays out the case for justifying reparations 155 years after slavery was abolished will be its top concern, said Lisa Holder, an attorney who teaches civil rights at UCLA School of Law, in a KCRA interview.

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“The response really has to be framed around the issue of continuing racial injustice that started back in 1619 when Africans were stolen from Africa and brought here as enslaved people,” Holder said. “Then you don’t get into this messy, unintelligible notion of who is directly linked to a slave.”

The study will reiterate California’s history of abetting slavery, even as it joined the union as a “free state” in 1850, according to Weber.

“The discriminatory practices of the past echo into the everyday lives of today’s Californians,” said Weber, who leads the Legislative Black Caucus.

If the bill passes the Senate, the panel will start the study by June 2021.