The groundbreaking report detailed how California, which has a population of 40 million, actively participated in disenfranchising black citizens, including leading the way in many areas.
The state supported slavery before it was technically abolished and oppressed black residents through discriminatory laws and practices in education, property, employment, and the courts.
Although a “free” state, about 1,500 enslaved African Americans lived in California in 1852, according to the report. The Ku Klux Klan flourished in California, with members holding positions in law enforcement and city government.
African-American families were forced to live in segregated neighborhoods that were more likely to be polluted.
The report also recommends compensating people who were forced from their homes for construction projects such as parks and highways and general renovation, as happened in the historically black and once prosperous Fillmore neighborhood of San Francisco.
The population makes up nearly six percent of California’s population, but it is overrepresented in jails and prisons. They made up nearly 9% of people living below the poverty line and accounted for 30% of homeless people in 2019, according to state figures.
Details of how black people could prove their lineage have yet to be determined. Task force members heard from genealogists who discussed various methods, including the use of census records, DNA and ancestry testing.
In the event of a remedy, an applicant will be required to produce a family tree, as well as submit their own birth certificate, parents, grandparents, etc., if possible.
“I hope this report will be used not only as an educational tool, but also as an organizing tool for people not only in California but across the United States to educate their communities,” Kamilah Moore, an attorney based in Los Angeles and restorative justice specialist who chairs the California Reparations Task Force.
Ms Moore said nearly 80% of California’s 2.6 million black residents would be eligible for reparations, based on calculations by a task force economist.