Pro-reparations lawmakers in New York are inspired by the progress of California’s historic task force. They have renewed their fight to pass a bill establishing a reparations commission in the empire state.
The commission would study the impact of slavery and give suggestions on providing reparations to Black American descendants of slavery.
Here are three things to know.
“We saw what happened in California. We want to pass a bill that starts a conversation about reparations,” Democrat Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages of Nassau told The New York Post.
Solages is also chairwoman of the New York Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.
Her colleague and fellow Democrat Assemblywoman Taylor Darling is a co-sponsor of the legislation. She said if New York Gov. Kathy Hochul doesn’t sign the bill if it passes the State Assembly, it will be a “slap in the face.”
Lawmakers in New York have been introducing reparations legislation since 2017, according to the details found in the current bill, A9435. In the 2019-20 session, the bill passed the House but not the Senate.
With almost 40 co-sponsors, the current bill has passed the New York House and is awaiting a vote in the Senate.
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According to the official summary of the A9435, the bill “Relates to acknowledging the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the city of New York and the state of New York; establishes the New York state community commission on reparations remedies to examine the institution of slavery, subsequently de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, the impact of these forces on living African-Americans and to make recommendations on appropriate remedies; provides for the repeal of such provisions.”
While New York lawmakers applaud California’s efforts, Darling said the $223,000 economists recommended be paid to each Black descendant of the enslaved for housing discrimination is too low.
“This country was built on the backs of enslaved people. It has impacted everything — housing, economic development, education,” Darling said.
New York lawmakers said they plan to submit a revised version of the bill to the Assembly as soon as possible.
“We want to push this legislation early. We want to do something that is meaningful — not ceremonial,” Solages said.
Some New York Republicans, including Sen. George Borrello and Assemblyman Andy Goodell, oppose the bill.
“It’s nothing but a taxpayer-funded giveaway to buy more votes for Democrats,” Borrello told the Post. “Slavery was evil. We fought a bloody [civil] war to end it.”
Hochul has been vocal about her stance against racism and bigotry. She signed an executive order in March that established the 400 Years of African American History Commission.
According to its website, the Commission “develops and facilitates activities throughout the United States, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies at Point Comfort, Virginia in 1619.”
A spokesperson for the governor told the Post, “Gov. Hochul will review the legislation if it passes both houses of the legislature.”
PHOTO: Protestors demand reparations from the United States government for years of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, redlining, and violence against Black people from police at the Minnesota capitol building on Juneteenth, June 19, 2020. (Photo: Flickr via Fibonacci Blue)