California Becomes 1st U.S. State to Create Proposals for Reparations

According to, California Governor Gavin Newsom today signed Assembly Bill 3121, which makes the Golden State the first in the U.S. to formally adopt a law to study and develop proposals for potential reparations to descendants of enslaved people and those impacted by slavery.

Newsom said the new law, authored by CA Assembly member Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), and the bipartisan support for its passage are proving “a paradigm that we hope will be resonant all across the United States.”

To quote the Los Angeles Times:

In a year of national protests against racial injustice, state lawmakers approved Assembly Bill 3121 to force the state to begin to confront its racist history and systemic disparities that persist today.

Although California entered the Union as a “free state” in 1850, slavery continued there after the state Constitution outlawed it the previous year. Slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865.

The new law creates a task force to recommend appropriate remedies to the state Legislature and determine who should be eligible to receive compensation, which advocates hope will become a model in a country where movements to make amends for centuries of slavery have failed to gain traction at the federal level.

“California has come to terms with many of its issues, but it has yet to come to terms with its role in slavery,” said Weber. “We’re talking about really addressing the issues of justice and fairness in this country that we have to address.”

Newsom and the CA legislative leaders will appoint the nine-member task force. The panel will then conduct a comprehensive examination of slavery in CA and the U.S. and the lasting consequences of discrimination against the formerly enslaved and their descendants.

The task force will also examine how slavery has benefitted private and public institutions and led to lasting disparities related to wealth, education, employment, health and incarceration.

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