Freedmen Affairs Agency Bill Moves Forward In California, Would Administer Reparations

Freedmen Affairs Agency Bill Moves Forward In California, Would Administer Reparations



The California State Senate has passed three significant reparations bills, marking a pivotal step in addressing the historical injustices of slavery and systemic racism in the state. These bills, which are part of a larger reparations package, now move to the Assembly for further consideration.

The legislative package, introduced by the California Legislative Black Caucus, is built on recommendations from the California Reparations Task Force. This task force, which conducted extensive research over two years, released over 100 proposals for reparations last summer.

In an effort to highlight the ongoing struggles and the potential benefits of these reparations, ABC7 has produced an Originals Documentary titled “California’s Case for Reparations.” The documentary delves into the stories of families who would benefit from reparations, the work of the task force, and the political landscape surrounding the legislation.

The three bills that advanced on May 21 were authored by Senator Steven Bradford of Southern California, a key member of the state’s reparations task force, ABC News reported.

SB 1403 passed with a vote of 30-7. This bill proposes the creation of the California Freedmen Affairs Agency, which would oversee and administer any reparations measures approved by the legislature. The agency would verify the eligibility of reparations recipients, focusing on descendants of African Americans enslaved in the U.S. or free Black individuals residing in the U.S. before the end of the 19th century. To support this, the agency would establish a genealogy office to assist in the claims process.

SB 1331 also passed with a 30-7 vote. This bill aims to establish the Fund for Reparations and Reparative Justice in the State Treasury. This fund would finance policies addressing the harms faced by Black Californians due to state actions. Although a specific funding mechanism was removed from the bill due to the state’s budget deficit, the establishment of the fund remains a crucial step, California Globe reported.

SB 1050 passed with a vote of 32-4. This bill requires the California Freedmen Affairs Agency to compensate families whose properties were unjustly taken through racially motivated eminent domain. Payments would be made based on the present-day fair market value of the property or by providing equivalent property.

In addition to these bills, AB 3089, which passed the state Assembly last week, proposes issuing a formal apology to Black Californians for the state’s historical role in slavery and discriminatory practices.

Photo by KATRIN BOLOVTSOVA: https://www.pexels.com/photo/brown-wooden-gavel-on-brown-wooden-table-6077326/