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6 things to know about reparations

Graphic courtesy of CA Reparations Task Force - See meeting on Youtube at
  1. The reparations movement is not new. Since American Freedmen (Black Americans) were emancipated from enslavement, we have demanded repair and redress.  Reparationist such as Calli House and Queen Mother Audley Moore, respectively, kept the demands of repair for Black Americans prominate in the late 1800s through out the 1900s.  Legacy reparations organizations like NCOBRA, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations, founded in 1987, continued the conversations around reparations throughout the 90s and the 2000s.  Today, the California Reparations movement is supported by organizations like NAASD-National Assembly of American Slavery Descendants, CJEC- Coalition for a Just and Equitable California and AARC- American Redress Coalition of California. 

  2. Lineage Based Reparations- The contemporary reparations movement is specifically calling for lineage-based reparations in California and across the nation.  The community of eligibility is based on lineage determined by an individual African American descendant of a chattel enslaved person OR the descendant of a Free Black person living in the U.S. prior to the end of the 19th century.  As opposed to legacy reparations organizations who demanded reparations for all Black people in America regardless of lineage.

  3. Major Players in the California Reparations movement- Then California Assembly Member Dr. Shirley Weber authored state legislation bill AB-3121.  This bill established the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans who are descendants of persons enslaved in the United States of America.   In 2020, Governor Gavin Newsome signed this bill into law and appointed each member of the 9 person California Reparations Task Force.  Kamilah V. Moore, task force chair, Dr. Amos C. Brown, vice-chair, Senator Steven Bradford, Dr. Cheryl Grills, Lisa Holder, Assembly member Reginald Jones-Sawyer, Dr Jovan Scott- Lewis, San Diego city council member Monica Montgomery Steppe, and Donald K. Tamaki. 

  4. The Historic Work of the California Reparations Task Force- The CA Reparations Task Force has held several hearings in the last year listening to the testimonies of expert economists, historians, cultural advocates, various professionals in industries such as health, education, and law as well as input from the public.  The Task Force also connected with the UCLA Bunche Center and local organizations throughout California, including Repaired Nations of Oakland, CA, to collect information about the lingering, negative and psychological effects of slavery on living Black Americans and how to eliminate it.  The Bunche Center used online surveys and passed out physical copies of the surveys at Task Force hearings and listening sessions.  I have sat through a few of these listening sessions and a few of the Task Force hearings done in several California cities such as Richmond, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vallejo, and others. The community testimonies were astounding.  Black Americans from all walks of life, income levels, abilities and ages gave testimony about how and when and why their family members came to California and the varying degrees of success, of trauma and of harm they experienced.  It would be amazing if a listening session could come to my hometown, East Palo Alto, California because our stories are just as compelling.

  5. The Interim Report- The CA Task Force to study reparations has assembled a remarkable 492-page report detailing the history of Black Americans in America, in California and the harms done to Black Americans.  The Interim Report discusses Enslavement, Racial Terror, Police Disenfranchisement, Housing Segregation, Separate and Unequal Education, Racism in Environment and Infrastructure, Pathologizing the Black Family, Control Over Creative Culture and Intellectual Life, Stolen Labor and Hindered Opportunity, An Unjust Legal System, Mental and Physical Harm and Neglect, and lastly The Wealth Gap.  East Palo Alto is mentioned several times in the Interim Report. 

  6. Five Forms of Reparations- Darlene Crumedy of ARCC Bay Area has educated and informed me about what reparations truly is.  She was kind enough to speak with me and help me overstand the reparations movement so that I can educate and inform others.  Darlene explained via email, these are the Five International Standards the United Nations of remedy the wrongs that are outlined in the General United Nations Approach to Transitional Justice and according to AB-3121, this is what reparations must be:

     Restitution- The returning of what has been stolen or taken away.  An example of this is the returning of Bruce Beach to its rightful Descendant owners. 

     Compensation- Cash money! CUT THE CHECK! CJEC Organizer Chris Lodgson says, “If it ain’t no Compensation, it ain’t reparations!”

     Rehabilitation- Mental and physical rehabilitation as well as socio-economic.       Rehabilitation could look like free health care or free education.

     Satisfaction- This would be the more symbolic forms of reparations such as a public apology or statues representing American Freedmen.

     Guarantee of Non-Repetition- Policies and legislation that guarantee these harms never happen again. 

If you have any questions or comments for the CA Reparations Task Force, email the Department of Justice at

If you are interested in reading the Interim Report as a group in East Palo Alto, please email  


The above article is written by Yahsmeen Abdusami Oakley, who is an East Palo Alto resident and a contributor to East Palo Alto Today. 

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