The New Frontier Democratic Club hosted “Face The State” on June 26, a community forum on California reparations for Black Americans. The virtual Q&A explored how Sacramento’s lawmakers may vote Thursday, June 29, on Assembly Bill 3121, which establishes a task force to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans.
Located in the Crenshaw area, NDC is California’s oldest and largest African American organization, fostering active participation by the community.
The guest speakers included California Secretary of State (and author of AB 3121) Dr. Shirley Weber, California Reparations Commission Chair Kamilah Moore, Esq., Reparations Commission Vice Chair Dr. Amos Brown, California NAACP President Rick Callendar, Esq., and L.A. County Democratic Party Chair Mark Gonzalez. FDC President, Dr. Mike Davis presided over the discussion, while L.A. Sentinel digital editor Niele Anderson served as moderator.
Panelists included Dr. Helena Johnson, National Council of Negro Women, founded in 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune: “[civil rights activist] Fannie Lou Hamer was famous for saying, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” The NCNW is 100 percent in favor of reparations, and we will be here to fight the fight from beginning to end”, Johnson proclaimed.
USC Gould School of Law Professor, Dr. Jody Armour: “When it comes to thinking about reparations, how does the rest of the African diaspora figure in our thinking about reparations? Should they be part of the discussion, and in what way? Or is this a unique stance whereby American Blacks think differently from other Blacks?,” he queried.
Dr. Lura Ball represents Our Author’s Study Club: “One of the challenges we have is ensuring that people know their history. I’m impressed with the copious work by NDC to document California’s complicit role in the moral and legal wrongs against African Americans and Blacks. Even though California was never an enslaved state, a lot of Blacks left because of voting rights issues, properties that were taken, and cities like Allensworth that were destroyed. And that was just the beginning of atrocities”, Ball recalled.
Dr. Boris Ricks is Director at the Center for Southern California Studies, California State University-Northridge: “How are we going to actualize reparations? For example, Japanese Americans received $1.6 billion – about $20,000 each. However, when we talk about the African American community, we talk about compensation that exceeds $800 billion. That’s 800 times more than the Japanese Americans. Does this compensation come in the form of health disparities, economic injustices, civil rights violations, or police violence?”, he asked.
Chair of Los Angeles Reparations Commission, Dr. Michael Lawson: “We are far from being where NDC is, but LARC is looking at what LA City has done or hasn’t done in respect of our people who are citizens of Los Angeles. This issue is not just a statewide issue, but it’s happening within our cities. So, LARC was put together to identify the wrongs and follow what the state commission is doing, and we’re still in the process of putting it together”, said Lawson.
Assembly Bill 3121 charges the California Department of Justice with providing administrative, technical, and legal assistance to the Task Force whose role is to develop recommendations for future Legislative action.