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Brief: California’s task force to identify reparations for African Americans voted Tuesday to limit eligibility to those who can trace their lineage to slaves.

Last year, the first-in-the-nation task force was tasked to study reparations to descendants of African Americans commenced.

The nine members committee – California’s task force is composed of 8 Black Americans and 1 Asian American.

The decision, which passed by a vote of 5-4 on Tuesday night, has narrowed those eligible for compensation.

The taskforce, has been collecting testimonials about the many forms of discrimination tied to the legacy of slavery and is due to issue its first formal report on its findings by 1 June, 2022.

About 2 million Black Californians are estimated to be descendants of slaves out of a total of 2.6 million Black residents of the state.

● The task force will draft an apology to Black Californians.

● Recommend ways the state might make up for discriminatory policies, which could include issuing direct payments to the descendants of enslaved people or passing laws to close racial disparities.

● It was mandated to explore the consequences of slavery and systemic racism against African Americans in the state.

Blacks working the cotton fields – Getty Images /Courtesy/


California, a trend setter is at it again. The most populous state is the largest economy in United States and the 5th largest economy in the world, if it were a stand alone country with a $3.0 trillion gross state product (GSP) as of 2020, ahead of Britain.

For years, it has set the standards for the automobile industry safety standards which have been co-opted by other states and the entire country at large.

Other areas the state has led the country since World War 2 include but not limited political, social and cultural trends. The state is a great player in the green economy (environment) and has been a world pioneer in digital/technology innovation through it’s Silicon Valley based companies.

Reparations talk have been a non starter in most states but since the death of George Floyd in May 2020 and the centennial anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre, there’s been growing talks of atoning for the sins of slavery and systemic discriminatory policies and laws, Jim Crow era that have harmed people of African decent in America.

During the Civil War between the Northern States (US) and the Southern States (The Confederacy – states that seceded from the Union).

When Civil War was winding down 157 years ago, Union leaders (Federal government/ Northern states) gathered a group of black ministers in Savannah, GA with the goal was to help the thousands of newly freed slaves attain financial/ real freedom.

It was in this meeting that General William T Sherman proposed that land be set aside along the Southeast shores for the newly freed ‘Negros’/ Blacks. This at a later time became known as the “FOURTY ACRES AND A MULE”.

The Green-Meldrim House in Savannah, GA where Gen. William T. Sherman met with local black leaders and created a compensation later known as “40 acres and a mule.”
Sarah McCammon /NPR/


Following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, the new President Andrew Johnson reversed the wartime field order #15 ending compensation for the newly freed Black Americans.

Union General William T Sherman’s wartime field order #15 and similar provisions included in the second Freedmen’s Bureau bills was FOURTY ACRES AND A MULE was proclaimed on January 16, 1865 towards the end of the Civil War.
Forty acres and a mule was to allot land to some freed families, in plots of land no larger than 40 acres (16 ha). 

Some economists estimate that the long-term financial implications of this reversal of 40 acres and mule for those 40,000 freed slaves would be worth $675 billion today.


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