Lorena Gonzalez Introduces Resolution to Support Federal Reparations Effort

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

SACRAMENTO – (Wednesday, June 19, 2019) – On Juneteenth, as Members of Congress hold the first hearing on reparations in over a decade, California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 21 to declare California’s support for H.R. 40, introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), to establish a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations to descendants of enslaved persons in the United States. 

Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Dr. Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego), Chair of California’s Legislative Black Caucus, are joint-authors of AJR 21, which would also formally apologize for the Legislature’s historic complicity in furthering the practice of slavery in California.

“Our country cannot begin to address the incredible racial inequities still prevalent in our society until we accept and work toward redress of our original sin,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said. “The notion that slaves, and now their descendants, deserve reparations for the immoral and unjust practice of human ownership and forced work has been around for over a hundred and fifty years. It’s about time the government plays a role in actually addressing this broken promise.”

As a result of historic discrimination and effects stemming from the institution of slavery, Black Americans continue to face debilitating economic, education, and health hardships, from which recovery has been impossible.

Congressional efforts to implement or study possible forms of redress for formerly enslaved persons date back to the Civil War. More recent efforts have been heavily shaped by reparations provided to more than 120,000 Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in internment camps during World War II.

Since 1989, legislation establishing a commission to study the legacy of slavery and to develop proposals for reparations has been introduced in each session of Congress. Critically, this commission would study the legacy of slavery in the modern context.

The significance of a government entity undertaking this work is extraordinary. H.R. 40 furthers a necessary national conversation on slavery and its legacies on our modern society in a way that brings necessary reconciliation with our country’s original sin.

For questions on AJR 21 or to schedule an interview with Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Sami Gallegos (209) 658-7617.