Reparations, California

Reparations Bills Pass First Hearings In California Senate

The multiple bills would establish agencies to oversee the allocation of reparations as well as correcting the injustice of eminent domain.

New reparations bills made it through their first hearing in the California Senate. If passed, the bills would implement reparations policy and address systemic eminent domain that displaced primarily Black residents.

The author of the bills, State Sen. Steven Bradford of Gardena, said the policies are “overdue” to correct racially-motivated displacement by the state’s government.

“This is not a handout or a charity of any sort,” Bradford said, according to The Sacramento Bee. “It’s what is owed, what is promised, what is 160 years overdue.”

California historically took private property owned by its Black and brown residents for racially-motivated reasons. Senate Bill 1050 means to correct this injustice, and passed 6-1 during a vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“The power of eminent domain has been repeatedly used to move Black and brown people off their land, to destroy homes and to devastate the opportunity for families to build generational wealth,” explained Bradford.

Cities from San Francisco to Los Angeles used eminent domain to take away minorities’ ability to build wealth through homeownership. Bradford intends for the bill to establish a path of restitution or returning of land to their former owners.

Bradford is also the vice chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus. The caucus proposed the bills as part of its 2024 Reparations Priority Bill Package. Bradford also serves on the first-ever Reparations task force in the state and nation.

“This is a debt that is owed to the people who helped build this country,” shared Bradford. Reparations is a debt owed to the descendants of slavery.” 

California has been relatively progressive in implementing reparations. Senate Bill 1403 specifically would establish the California American Freedmen Affairs Agency, which would oversee the implementation and allocation of reparations to those eligible.

“This agency will be the necessary foundation for the implementation and success of reparations,” Bradford said during a committee hearing in April. “The most important responsibility of this agency will be determining which individuals are eligible for reparations programs and services—the descendants of chattel slavery.”

Other state legislatures have also initiated conversations on reparations, such as New York. While the actual implementation has occurred, with Evanston, Illinois, being the first, these new bills making the rounds in California are a significant stride toward the effort.

RELATED CONTENT: Black California Residents One Step Closer To Receiving $1 Million Reparations Payments