S.F. panel presses for $5mil, debt elimination as slavery reparations

Neither San Francisco, nor the state of California, ever authorized the practice of slavery prior to or during the Civil War.

A San Francisco committee tasked with studying slavery reparations to black residents has returned its findings, recommending a $5 million lump sum payment and total debt forgiveness.

The City by the Bay, nor the State of California or its residents, ever engaged in the practice of slavery prior to the Civil War.


Driving the news: Reparations studies have emerged as a cause du jour in on-going racial politic. Beyond San Francisco, California lawmakers authorized a statewide study of reparations for further consideration. That committee has faced considerable strife in determining possible eligibility of hypothetical cash payments.

  • San Francisco’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee delivered its report to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors just before Christmas and directed the need for reparations not because of slavery but rather “to address the public policies explicitly created to subjugate Black people in San Francisco by upholding and expanding the intent and legacy of chattel slavery.”

What’s in the plan? The plan includes two components: a lump sum payment of $5 million to eligible black residents and total debt elimination.

  • Under the panel’s recommendation, a recipient of reparations must:
    • Be 18 years old
    • Have identified as black or African American on public documents for at least 10 years
    • Prove they were either
      • Born in San Francisco between 1940 and 1996 and have proof of city residency of at least 13 years; or
      • Be personally or the direct descendent of someone incarcerated by the “War on Drugs”

What they’re saying: The Board of Supervisors, who have had the document for three weeks, have not yet scheduled it for further consideration, despite some support from the panel.

  • “While neither San Francisco, nor California, formally adopted the institution of chattel slavery, the tenets of segregation, white supremacy and systematic repression and exclusion of Black people were codified through legal and extralegal actions, social codes, and judicial enforcement,” the draft states.
  • “A lump sum payment would compensate the affected population for the decades of harms that they have experienced, and will redress the economic and opportunity losses that Black San Franciscans have endured, collectively, as the result of both intentional decisions and unintended harms perpetuated by City policy,” the draft states.

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