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Historic Bill Seeks Apology for Chattel Slavery as Part of California’s Reparations Legislative Package

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO, California – (February 20, 2024) – Los Angeles area Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles) has introduced AB 3089, a formal apology for California’s role in chattel slavery. Specifically, the bill would formally have the State of California recognize and accept responsibility for all of the “harms and atrocities committed by the state, its representatives, and entities under its jurisdiction who promoted, facilitated, enforced, and permitted the institution of chattel slavery and the enduring legacy of ongoing badges and incidents from which the systemic structures of discrimination have come to exist.”

The bill also calls for the apology to be memorialized in a signed letter from Legislative leadership and the Governor. It requires this letter to be permanently displayed for the public in the State Capitol building.

Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer will join members of the California Legislative Black Caucus on Wednesday, February 21st at a press conference to disclose the Caucus’s full reparations bill package. The event will take place in Room 317 at 10:00 a.m. in the Capitol building.

“For two years as a member of the California Reparations Task Force, I learned about the harms that Jim Crow-styled laws and policies California adopted and instituted caused Black communities since the state’s inception,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “African Americans in California have for generations been purposely denied access to programs and services that would have otherwise lifted many in the areas of economics, education, and civic leadership. The hinderance of growth these laws caused deserves to be recognized, publicly, through a formal apology. This is what my bill aims to have done.”

The two-year study by the Task Force provides the most comprehensive empirical data and historic review about reparations in U.S. history. The 1,600 plus page report was an indictment on the racist and bigoted laws enacted in California causing generational barriers targeting Black Californians and creating a second-class citizenry. The final report provides 112 recommendations for the Legislature to consider as possible remedies and reparations for identified harms.

The bill will move through the normal legislative process and will have its first hearing 30-days from the date of introduction.

The language of the bill reads:

“The State of California apologizes for perpetuating the harms African Americans faced by having imbued racial prejudice through segregation, public and private discrimination, and unequal disbursal of state and federal funding and declares that such actions shall not be repeated. The State of California acknowledges the work of the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, with a Special Consideration for African Americans Who are Descendants of Persons Enslaved in the United States. This task force, established by Assembly Bill 3121 (2020), detailed the harms faced by African Americans in California and provided numerous legislative recommendations, including this formal apology. The State of California affirms its role in protecting the descendants of enslaved people and all Black Californians as well as their civil, political, and socio-cultural rights. California acknowledges and affirms its responsibility to end ongoing harm. The State of California commits to restore and repair affected peoples with actions beyond this apology.”

The full bill can be found here: