California lawmakers unveil sweeping legislative proposals aimed at slavery reparations

Lawmakers in California have revealed a sweeping set of legislative proposals aimed at providing reparations for state residents who are descendants of enslaved Africans.

The California Legislative Black Caucus announced the 2024 Reparations Priority Bill Package Wednesday, which lists 14 measures, including providing a formal apology for “human rights violations and crimes against humanity on African slaves and their descendants.”

The package also proposes creating a state-funded grant program to decrease community violence in Black neighborhoods and requiring advanced notification about grocery store closures in underserved and at-risk communities.

State lawmakers said in a news release Wednesday that some of the legislation has already been introduced in the state’s General Assembly, or will be introduced during the current legislative session.

Lawmakers said some of the measures that have already been introduced include expanding the state’s CROWN Act to ban hair discrimination in sports, creating a grant program that increases high school and college enrollment in STEM-related programs, and prohibiting book bans in prisons without review and oversight from the state’s correctional facilities.

The proposed legislative package, however, does not include cash payments to descendants of slaves.

Assemblywoman Lori D. Wilson, chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, said addressing reparations entails more than providing financial compensation.

“As laid out in the report, we need a comprehensive approach to dismantling the legacy of slavery and systemic racism,” Wilson said in a statement.

“This year’s legislative package tackles a wide range of issues, from criminal justice reforms, to property rights, to education, civil rights and food justice. The Caucus is looking to make strides in the second half of this legislative session as we build towards righting the wrongs of California’s past in future sessions.”

Wilson said the caucus’ first step will be to introduce a resolution recognizing how California laws have harmed Black residents.

Last June, a task force examining reparations for Black residents in the state released its final report with more than 115 recommendations for how the state should make amends for slavery and “historical atrocities,” CNN previously reported.

Among the recommendations was a proposal for monetary compensation to be paid to descendants of enslaved Africans living in California. The report did not provide a specific amount that should be paid and at the time the task force said the amount should be determined by lawmakers.

On Thursday, California state Sen. Steven Bradford, who was a member of the reparations task force, acknowledged that the state’s budget deficit could affect implementing the proposed measures.

“We have to have at least a placeholder in the budget for reparations,” Bradford told reporters during a news conference, adding that the state has reserves that could be designated to fund legislation.

The caucus said introducing the package was a first step in what it says will be “a multi-year effort to implement the legislative recommendations in the report.”

CNN’s Nicole Chavez, Stephanie Elam and Anna-Maja-Rappard contributed to this report.

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