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Calif. Senate Passes Landmark Package of Three Reparations Bills

Bo Tefu, Lila Brown, and Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media

Last week, the California State Senate voted to advance three landmark reparations bills authored by Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood). The bills aim to redress the economic and social injustices stemming from chattel slavery in the American South and more than a century of state-sectioned discriminatory practices that followed the Civil War. The package of legislation now moves to the State Assembly for consideration.

The historic vote on Senate Bill (SB) 1403, SB 1050, and SB 1331 was held on the Senate floor late in the afternoon on May 21, while supporters representing several reparations advocacy groups observed from the gallery.

“l appreciate my Legislative colleagues who have directly faced this important issue and shown great courage by passing these historic pieces of legislation,” said Bradford. “I look forward to working with the members of the Assembly to similarly pass these bills so we can present them to Governor Newsom for his signature.”

SB 1403 establishes the framework for the establishment of the California American Freedmen Affairs Agency (CAFAA), a state-level department that would administer all reparations activities. It passed with a 30-7 vote.

SB 1050 would offer compensation to Black Californians who lost homes or had their land taken without fair compensation as a result of the racially motivated misuse of eminent domain. It passed with a 32-4 vote.

With a vote of 30-7 on the Senate floor, SB 1331 also passed. It proposes the establishment of an account in the state treasury for the purpose of funding reparations policies approved by the Legislature and the Governor.

Darlene Crumedy, a Bay Area resident and member of the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California (CJEC), is one of the reparations supporters who has shown up at every Senate hearing for Bradford’s compensation bills. 

She called passage of the bills “historic and special.” Now the work begins in the Assembly, and they are going to pass there, too,” Crumedy said expressing optimism about the bills’ future.

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