NY Lawmakers Pass ‘Historic’ Bill To Consider Slavery Reparations

N.Y. Gov. Kathy Hochul (Getty Images)
June 9, 2023

New York lawmakers passed a bill that would create a commission to consider reparations for black residents, one month after California governor Gavin Newsom (D.) rejected a state commission's recommendations for reparation payments.

The legislature on Thursday passed the bill to Governor Kathy Hochul (D.) for consideration. The bill would establish a panel to study the role of the federal and state governments in slavery and any effects they determine are still at play today. Democratic lawmaker Michaelle Solages said "we want to make sure we are looking at slavery and its legacies."

"This is about beginning the process of healing our communities," Solages said. "There still is generational trauma that people are experiencing. This is just one step forward."

The measure, which first passed the state's Assembly last year but did not make it out of the Senate, comes after California launched its own reparations task force, whose recommendations were ultimately disregarded by Governor Gavin Newsom (D., Calif.).

Newsom in early May declined to endorse the recommendations of the reparations board he helped organize, which suggested black residents in the state should receive up to $1.2 million each.

"Dealing with that legacy is about much more than cash payments," Newsom said. "The Reparations Task Force’s independent findings and recommendations are a milestone in our bipartisan effort to advance justice and promote healing. This has been an important process, and we should continue to work as a nation to reconcile our original sin of slavery."

The California state panel was launched in 2020 at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement to assess potential reparation payments.

When Newsom signed legislation establishing the panel in 2020 along with related bills, he touted them as "important steps" to "make right" the "discrimination" black residents in his state "still face." Newsom appointed five of the nine members of the board.

"Many of the recommendations put forward by the Task Force are critical action items we’ve already been hard at work addressing," Newsom said after declining to endorse the board's recommendations.