San Diego City Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe has been appointed to a task force exploring the idea of reparations for Black people in California. She is one of nine who were selected.
California is the first state in the U.S. that passed legislation to appoint a task force to study and make recommendations on reparations for slavery.
California Senate President Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) appointed Montgomery Steppe on Feb. 1 to the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, NBC San Diego reported.
Montgomery Steppe has worked as a civil rights lawyer, a criminal justice advocate for ACLU San Diego and currently serves as Councilwoman of the San Diego Fourth District, according to 10 News. District 4 includes communities of Alta Vista, Broadway Heights, Chollas View, Emerald Hills, Encanto, Greater Skyline Hills, Jamacha, Lincoln Park, Lomita Village, North Bay Terrace, Oak Park, O’Farrell, Paradise Hills, Redwood Village, Rolando Park, South Bay Terrace, Valencia Park and Webster.
The task force, “with a special consideration for African Americans who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States,” came about after Assembly Bill AB 3121 was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in October 2020.
“As we enter into Black History Month — and on the heels of a year of tragic events that underscored our nation’s continued struggle to achieve equality and justice for Black Americans — I am honored to name Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe to the Reparations Task Force,” Atkins said.
The historic task force was created by California’s new Secretary of State, Dr. Shirley Weber, while she was in the Assembly. It’s “a crucial step forward in California’s pursuit to reckon with our dark history of slavery and to cast light upon the shadows of systemic racism that continue to perpetuate within our institutions,” Atkins said.
Weber had been pushing for reparations in California. It was she who wrote the reparations bill AB 3121, introducing it to the California Assembly in February 2020.
“California has historically led the country on civil rights, yet we have not come to terms with our state’s ugly past that allowed slaveholding within our borders and returned escaped slaves to their masters,” Weber said in a prepared statement from the Office of the Governor. “Neither have we effectively addressed our present justice system which allows prosecutors to bar African Americans from serving on juries. The governor’s signature on AB 3121 and AB 3070 once again demonstrates that our state is dedicated to leading the nation on confronting and addressing systemic injustice.”
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The task force is the first step against systemic racism, Montgomery Steppe said.
“It is an honor to serve on this Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals, and I am grateful to Senate President pro tempore Atkins for this appointment to continue my work in fighting for racial equity,” Montgomery Steppe said. “This is an important first step to dismantle systemic racism and the barriers that African Americans have faced in this country since its beginning, and I look forward to the work of the task force.”
The goal of the task force is “to recommend, among other things, the form of compensation that should be awarded, the instrumentalities through which it should be awarded, and who should be eligible for this compensation.”