California Panel Calls for Billions in Reparations for Black Residents

Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, who is one of two state lawmakers on the panel, said he had spoken with Mr. Newsom in recent weeks and expressed optimism that legislation would be approved based on the panel’s report.

“The reality is Black Californians have suffered, and continue to suffer, from institutional laws and policies within our state’s political, social, and economic landscape that have negated Blacks from achieving life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for generations,” said Mr. Jones-Sawyer, who represents a Los Angeles district. “This really is a trial against America’s original sin, slavery, and the repercussions it caused and the lingering effects in modern society.”

Mr. Jones-Sawyer said he expected to present some form of legislation early next year.

But the efforts and support for racial justice that followed Mr. Floyd’s death are now confronted with an economy that is shadowed by fears of a recession. In January, Mr. Newsom announced that the state faced a $22.5 billion deficit in the 2023-24 fiscal year, a turnaround from a $100 billion surplus a year ago.

Nationwide, opinions on reparations are sharply divided by race. Last fall, a survey from the Pew Research Center found that 77 percent of Black Americans say the descendants of people enslaved in the United States should be repaid in some way, while 18 percent of white Americans say the same. Democrats were even split on the issue, with 49 percent opposed and 48 percent in support. Other polls on the issue have found similar splits.

Even so, cities across the country have moved forward with reparations proposals. In 2021, officials in Evanston, Ill., a Chicago suburb, approved $10 million in reparations in the form of housing grants.

More recently, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has expressed support for reparations that could offer several million dollars. And in nearby Hayward, Calif., city officials are hearing proposals for reparations for land taken from Black and Latino families in the 1960s.

Kamilah Moore, a lawyer who is chair of the California task force, said she was confident that the Legislature would “respect the task force’s official role as a legislative advisory body and work in good faith to turn our final proposals into legislation.”

“It will soon be in their hands to act,” Ms. Moore said.

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