'Historic': New York Passes Bill To Consider Reparations For Slavery

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New York may soon create a commission to consider reparations to address the lingering effects of slavery on its Black residents.

On Thursday (June 8), the New York state assembly and Senate passed a bill that would create a reparations commission designed to examine the extent to which the state supported slavery and the persistent economic, political, and educational disparities its Black residents face today, per the Associated Press.

"We want to make sure we are looking at slavery and its legacies," state Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages said. "This is about beginning the process of healing our communities. There still is generational trauma that people are experiencing. This is just one step forward."

According to the bill, enslaved Africans who first arrived at the southern tip of Manhattan Island around the 1620s helped build the infrastructure of New York City. The state legislature enacted a measure that granted enslaved Africans freedom in 1817, but it took a decade for the statute to actually be implemented.

New York's commission would follow California's reparations task force, which was created in 2020. Under the bill, the commission would be required to produce a report one year after its first meeting. Its recommendations, which could include monetary compensation for Black New Yorkers, would be non-binding, meaning the legislature wouldn't be required to act on them.

Following Thursday's passage, the bill just awaits the approval of New York Gov. Kathy Hochul. The governor, the legislative leader of the state Senate, and New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie would each appoint three members to the commission.

Heastie said the legislation is "historic."

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