Hochul Takes Historic Step Signs Legislation Establishing Slavery Reparations Commission


Tuesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed historic racial justice legislation that sets up a group to look into slavery reparations.

A community committee will be set up by the new law to look into the history of slavery in New York State and possible ways to make things right.

“You can see the unthought-of effects of slavery in things like Black poverty and Black mothers dying before their babies are born,” said Nicole Carty, executive head of the group Get Free.

Some activists, like Carty, said it had been a long time coming for the new law. After the racist mass shooting in Buffalo, she helped push for the bill, which was introduced by Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages.

“We saw that monster come into the community and kill 12 Black New Yorkers,” said Solages.

The signing took place at the Upper West Side New-York Historical Society, right next to an exhibit about Frederick Douglass.

While slavery ended in the US in 1863, it ended in New York in 1827 and across the whole country. However, after that, there were racial segregation policies like Jim Crow and redlining, which denied loans to people based on their race and where they lived, which affected generations.

“I come from Long Island. Solages said, “There is the first suburb of Levittown, one of the best housing programs we could have in this country, and Black New Yorkers were left out of it.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton said, “Look at today, where black people still make 70 cents for every dollar that white people make.”

Sharpton and other leaders say the committee comes at a tough time for America.

A Pew Research poll from 2021 found that only 18% of white Americans support payments, while 77% of black Americans do.

Supporters say that before the Revolutionary War, there were more Africans in New York place as slaves than in any other place except Charleston, South Carolina. Africans who were owned as slaves made up 20% of New York’s population.

“Let’s be clear on what payment for harm means. Fixing the past or erasing what happened is not what it means. That’s not possible. Not anyone. But it’s not as easy as saying sorry 150 years later. It’s now possible to talk and discuss about what we want the future to be like thanks to this bill. Hochul said, “And I can’t think of anything more democratic than that.”

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “We do have a governor who is honest enough to say out loud that this is hard and that she knows there will be pushback.”

The nine people who will be on the group will be chosen over the next six months. They’ll have a year to write the report before it’s made public.

J.J. Brisco, a student advocate, said, “Our generation wants leaders who are willing to face our true history.”

Young people today hope that this important event will help to clear up a bad part of the past.

California was the first state in the country to look into compensation. Now New York is the second.

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