WRITTEN BY ANTONIO RAY HARVEY | CALIFORNIA BLACK MEDIA
The California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans decided at the two-day meeting on the campus of San Diego State University that it would support legislation that extends the panel until July 1, 2024.
After an 8-0 vote with one abstention, the task force agreed that it would support legislation that extends the panel, so that it has ample time to satisfactorily implement an action plan based on the findings of its final report, which is due in five months.
The decision, enacted in SDSU’s Grand Ballroom of the Parma Goodall Alumni Center on Jan. 28, was made four months after Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed legislation asking for a 12-month extension.
The first day of the meeting was held on Jan. 27 at the Alumni Center.
“The task force supports, in spirit, the extension of the life of the task force, by another year, July 1, 2024, for implementation purpose only,” task force chairperson Kamilah V. Moore told California Black Media (CBM). “We do not authorize or write legislation, but all agreed as a task force the idea of continuing this work to ensure that reparations become a reality in California.”
After a passionate debate -- carried over from the first day of the meeting -- clarified the need for the extension, the task force members supported the notion that more time was necessary.
The nine-member panel has until June 30 to submit a final form of recommendations to the California Legislature. The group agreed that the necessity of the action is based on having to manage the implementation of the task force recommendations and not a continuation of the study. The task force is on schedule to release its final report and recommendations by July 1, Moore said.
On Sept. 29, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed Assembly Bill (AB) 2296 authored by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles). AB 2296 proposed extending the Task Force’s mission until July 1, 2024. Newsom vetoed the bill at the request of California Secretary of State Shirley Weber who authored AB 3121 – the legislation establishing the task force in 2020 – while serving in the Assembly.
Task Force vice chair Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown said at the SDSU meeting that Jones had not been transparent about his intentions for proposing the bill. Brown thought the bill was designed to remove members from the panel. He said Jones-Sawyer has since “apologized” to him about not providing pertinent details about AB 2296.
Jones-Sawyer was the only task force member who abstained from voting at SDSU. As stated in the language, AB 2296 would’ve removed “the specified term of office for appointees and, instead, subject the appointees to removal at the pleasure of their appointing authority.”
The action alone would authorize the Task Force, by majority vote, to elect officers and create advisory bodies and subcommittees to accomplish its duties.
Friday Jones, co-chair of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Assembly of American Slavery Descendants and co-host of Politics in Black Podcast, opposed Jones-Sawyer’s Legislation. She now agrees with the current proposed extension.
“First of all, I think the way it was brought up now in front of the commission is the way that is supposed to happen. That did not happen the first time Reggie Jones-Sawyer asserted legislation without forming this body,” Jones told CBM. “That part they did get right today.” Jones continued, “But the part of the conversation to me that was missing is the argument that we are going to extend so we can ‘socialize’ all of these recommendations to build support from different communities and ethnicities to put marketing money on the table (to bring about awareness of California reparations).”
Overall, the meeting covered many issues, topics, and recommendations for the final report. Potential remedies, remedial programs, laws and apologies attached to harms pertaining to the wealth gap, and a comprehensive presentation of tax law considerations presented by Ray Odom and Sarah Moore Johnson were featured on the first day of the meeting.
California’s AB 3121, signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, into law in 2020, created the nine-member task force to investigate the history and costs of slavery in California and around the United States.
Weber spoke briefly at the meeting. She started her academic career as one of SDSU’s youngest professors and established the Africana Studies department in 1972.
San Diego’s 37th Mayor Todd Gloria also spoke at the meeting. Gloria served in the state Assembly from 2016 to 2020.
Chris Ward, Assembly Speaker pro Tempore of the California State Assembly, who serves the 78th Assembly District in central San Diego, made remarks to the panel on opening day of the meeting.
“Your work is going to be pivotal to help so many Californians that have been affected by the injustices and inequalities we have seen in our education system, in our housing system, and economic opportunities,” Ward said. “This is going to be groundbreaking, and I am grateful for the work that you are doing.”