California Assembly Apologizes For Slavery

The California State Assembly passed a resolution formally apologizing for slavery last week, despite the fact it entered the Union as a free state. The effort came after California Gov. Gavin Newsom created a committee to study possible reparations for the state’s Black residents.

The assembly bill received widespread support from the body’s Democratic Party members. According to the resolution, that state “recognizes and accepts responsibility for all of the harms and atrocities committed by the state, its representatives thereof and entities under its jurisdiction who promoted, facilitated, enforced and permitted the institution of chattel slavery and the enduring legacy of ongoing badges and incidents from which the systemic structures of discrimination have come to exist.”

The resolution further apologized for “perpetuating the harms African Americans faced by having imbued racial prejudice through segregation, public and private discrimination and unequal disbursal of state and federal funding and declares that such actions shall not be repeated.”

The resolution cites the work of the Special Consideration for African Americans Who are Descendants of Persons Enslaved in the United States, formed in 2020. The body recommended extensive reparations payments, which have been estimated at about $1.2 million for every Black resident in the state.

Despite the report from the committee, Newsom did not endorse the idea of cash payments. An apology was one of the recommendations by the committee.

“The State of California affirms its role in protecting the descendants of enslaved people and all Black Californians as well as their civil, political and socio-cultural rights. California acknowledges and affirms its responsibility to end ongoing harm. The State of California commits to restore and repair affected peoples with actions beyond this apology,” said the resolution.

The governor wrote on social media that his state would be the first to “mandate the study and development of proposals for reparations.”

“Our past is one of slavery, racism and injustice. Our systems were built to oppress people of color,” he said.

“It’s past time we acknowledge that,” Newsom wrote.