A black activist appearing before California’s first reparations task force meeting insisted that every black person in the state receive $350,000 and black-owned businesses should receive $250,000.
Max Fennell, the first black professional tri-athlete, spoke in Oakland, the birthplace of the Black Panthers.
“It’s a debt that’s owed, we worked for free,” he demanded while speaking at Oakland’s city hall. “We’re not asking, we’re telling you.”
“The tangibles of what I’m asking for is $350,000 per black American in California that’s tangible, small business grant $250,000, and land 15-20 acres,” he added.
The task force is considering five areas in which it claims black Americans have been harmed: the government taking property, the supposed devaluation of businesses owned by blacks, alleged mass incarceration, health, and housing issues. Its recommendations to the California Legislature must be delivered by July 1.
“It is important to get this right because we are setting the precedent for other states and localities, and also for the federal government as well,” Kamilah V. Moore, the chair of the committee, said Wednesday.
In September 2020, California Democrat governor Gavin Newsom signed a first-in-the-nation law to create a state-based task force to make recommendations on slavery reparations to the black community.
“As a nation, we can only truly thrive when every one of us has the opportunity to thrive,” Newsom stated. “Our painful history of slavery has evolved into structural racism and bias built into and permeating throughout our democratic and economic institutions. … While there is still so much work to do to unravel this legacy, these pieces of legislation are important steps in the right direction to building a more inclusive and equitable future for all.”
Newsom signed two bills by Democrat Assemblymember Shirley Weber, who declared, “We have not come to terms with our state’s ugly past that allowed slaveholding within our borders and returned escaped slaves to their masters.”
On Wednesday in Massachusetts, the Boston City Council voted to create a task force to examine the idea of reparations.
Last year, the Evanston City Council in Illinois voted to give reparations to its black residents, allocating $400,000 to be paid out in homeownership and improvement grants up to $25,000. “The Local Reparations Restorative Housing Program … acknowledges the harm caused to Black/African-American Evanston residents due to discriminatory housing policies and practices and inaction on the part of the City,” a resolution from the council stated.