California Governor Signs Historic Bill That Could Lead to Reparations for Slavery

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 3121 into law on Wednesday, making California the first state to officially consider reparations for Black citizens.

Gov. Gavin Newsom

Image via Getty/Agustin Paullier/AFP

Gov. Gavin Newsom

California's governor has signed a historic reparations bill amid nationwide outcries against racial injustice.

"After watching last night's debate, this signing can't come too soon," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday, as he signed Assembly Bill 3121 into law.

The legislation makes California the first state to officially consider reparations for slavery; however, as Deadline points out, the bill does not commit to a specific payment for Black Californians, nor does it mention how the reparations will be paid. Instead, Assembly Bill 3121 authorizes the creation of a task force that will study reparations and determine how they can benefit the Black community, specifically the descendants of slaves. The nine-person task force will also recommend how reparations should be provided, "whether through compensation or restitution."

"Advancing this cause where it's not just a question on a questionnaire for a candidate running for office but actually taking shape here, that's a meaningful moment," Newsom said Wednesday. "This conversation is so long overdue."

The task force will also recommend how to eliminate state laws and policies that "that continue to disproportionately and negatively affect African Americans," and will propose the manner in which the State of California will issue "a formal apology on behalf of the people of California for the perpetration of gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity on African slaves and their descendants."

The recommendations will be outlined in a report that will be presented no later than a year after the task force's first meeting, which must take place before June 2021.

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