On June 1, California’s first-in-the-nation reparations task force released its first interim report. The in-depth and extensive report “surveys the ongoing and compounding harms experienced by African Americans as a result of slavery and its lingering effects on American society today.” This was an historic move by California. Many are wondering is New York State could be far behind.
NY State Senator Jabari Brisport says it’s about time. In a recent tweet he pointed out that slaves helped build New York and that reparations are long overdue.
“Did you know that in the lead up to the American Revolution, there were more slaves in New York City than there were an any other city in the colonies except for Charleston, South Carolina?” he asked in a video posted on Twitter on May 31.
He added, “Slavery wasn’t abolished in New York until about 20 years before the Civil War.”
Slavery was abolished in new York on July 4, 1827. The Civil War began Apr 12, 1861.
Brisport, a former public school teacher, is the state senator for New York’s 25th State Senate district in Brooklyn, and gained national attention during his 2020 campaign for his outspoken views on racial justice and socialist economic principles. He is the first openly gay person of color elected to the New York State Legislature.
At age 22, Brisport organized efforts in support of a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. The bill was defeated in 2009, but Brisport continued organizing around the issue and same-sex marriage was legalized in New York in 2011.
In 2021 Brisport and Assemblyman Charles Barron introduced a reparations bill, which was passed on June 17, 2021. “
On a vote of 107 to 43, the State Assembly voted to establish the ‘New York State Community Commission on Reparations Remedies,” Barron told The Amsterdam News.
The bill (S7215/A2619a) seeks a commission on reparations and examined the institution of slavery and racial and economic discrimination against African Americans.
The bill language states: “The slavery that flourished in New York state constituted an immoral and inhumane deprivation of Africans’ life, liberty, African citizenship rights, and cultural heritage and denied them the fruits of their own labor. Sufficient inquiry has not been made into the effects of the institution of slavery on living African-Americans and society in New York.”
“This bill would create a special commission to examine the effects of slavery in New York,” Brisport explained to New York State of Politics. “It would examine the harm. [We would] reach out to obtain whatever relevant data from heads of departments throughout New York state and establish a plan for how to deliver reparations to Black Americans.”
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“The bill sets up a commission that will include among elected officials two representatives from three local Black community groups, including the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA), the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, and the December 12th Movement,” explained Barron.
During a June 30, 2021 broadcast of “Represent NYC,” Professor Lynda Day, Africana Studies Department at Brooklyn College, and Dr. Ron Daniels of the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) discussed the need for New York reparations. On the episode entitled “Represent NYC: What would reparation look like and why are they needed,” Daniels said, “There also has to be restitution…we know for sure the Black community was underdeveloped.” He added, there need to be reparations dispensed to the community, and it can be in the form of hospitals in the community, for example. “We’re looking at community benefits that will help everyone in the Black community,” he added.
Many feel reparations are long overdue in New York State. Slaves built most of New York City and constructed some of the most prominent landmarks, including City Hall and the wall after which Wall Street took its name, The Gothamist reported.
Photo: Housing advocate Jabari Brisport protests outside Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office on the eviction moratorium on Aug. 4, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Brittainy Newman)/Photo: Words engraved on a stone plinth form a component of the Slavery Memorial by sculptor Martin Puryear, erected in 2014, on the Brown University campus in Providence, R.I., on May 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)