Reparation Measures Adopted in California, Rhode Island and Illinois


In California in June, a bill creating a task force to develop reparation proposals for African Americans was passed in the State Assembly and is now being considered by the Senate. The Legislative Counsel's Digest of the bill reads:

"Existing law requests the Regents of the University of California to assemble a colloquium of scholars to draft a research proposal to analyze the economic benefits of slavery that accrued to owners and the businesses, including insurance companies and their subsidiaries, that received those benefits, and to make recommendations to the Legislature regarding those findings.

"Existing law requires the Insurance Commissioner to request and obtain information from insurers licensed and doing business in this state regarding any records of slaveholder insurance policies issued by any predecessor corporation during the slavery era. Existing law requires insurers to research and report to the commissioner on insurance policies that provided coverage for injury to, or death of, enslaved people.

"This bill would establish the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, Americans who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States, consisting of 8 members, appointed as provided. The bill would require the Task Force to, among other things, identify, compile, and synthesize the relevant corpus of evidentiary documentation of the institution of slavery that existed within the United States and the colonies. The bill would require the Task Force to recommend, among other things, the form of compensation that should be awarded, the instrumentalities through which it should be awarded, and who should be eligible for this compensation. The bill would require the Task Force to submit a written report of its findings and recommendations to the Legislature. The bill would authorize reimbursement of the members' expenses only to the extent an appropriation is made in the Budget Act. The bill would state that any state level reparations authorized under these provisions are not to be considered a replacement for any reparations enacted at the federal level. The bill would repeal these provisions on July 1, 2023."

Rhode Island

In Providence, Rhode Island, on July 15, Mayor Jorge Elorza signed an executive order to pursue a "truth-telling and reparations process." The Providence Journal reported: "The process in Providence, Elorza said, will start with members of his administration and a group of African-American advisers meeting with historical societies and researchers to come up with a plan for sharing the state's role throughout history in the institution of slavery, genocide of Indigenous people, forced assimilation and seizure of land. The history could be shared through methods such as exhibitions, community conversations and guest speakers, he said.

"City leaders will also review local and state laws as part of this process, particularly those that result in discrimination against Black and Indigenous people in the public and private sectors, according to the city.

"The city will then engage in a broad community conversation on the state's history and the ways in which historical injustices and systemic racism continue to affect society today.

"Determining what form reparations will take will be the last step of the process."


In Illinois the process of reparations began in 2019. The city of Evanston's website states: 

"The City of Evanston's reparations planning process began in June 2019 following the City Council's adoption of a resolution affirming the City's commitment to end structural racism and achieve racial equity. The City Council's Equity and Empowerment Commission held two community meetings to gather public input on reparations in July, and summarized input and recommendations in a report to the City Council. In September, the Council accepted the Equity and Empowerment Commission's report and authorized the creation of a City Council subcommittee to begin the planning process.

"In November, a Reparations Fund was created and adopted a resolution as part of the City's 2020 Budget. The City Council committed to utilize tax revenue collected from sales of recreational cannabis to support reparations in Evanston.

"Following the City Council's adoption of the 2020 Budget, Ald. Robin Rue Simmons hosted a Reparations Town Hall Meeting at First Church of God in Evanston on December 11. Actor, humanitarian and Ambassador for the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent Danny Glover was the keynote presenter. Representatives from the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) also participated."

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 27 - July 25, 2020

Article Link:
Reparation Measures Adopted in California, Rhode Island and Illinois


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