|RELEASE: Assembly member Solages, Senator Brisport reintroduce bill calling for slavery reparations
|FOR I.MMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joshua Joseph, email@example.com, (518) 455-5347
Maddy Zimmerman, MzimmerM@nysenate.gov, (571) 234-2177
NEW YORK STATE LAWMAKERS RE-INTRODUCE REPARATIONS & REMEDIES LEGISLATION ON MLK DAY
Bill to establish a commission on reparations & remedies picks up momentum in New York
ALBANY, NY (January 13, 2023) – Today, ahead of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages and Senator Jabari Brisport have re-introduced legislation to establish a community commission to study reparations remedies. The bill empowers the community commission to analyze the matter of reparations, as well as the legacy of de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against people of African descent. The commission will hold various hearings throughout New York State, hear from stakeholders, and then make recommendations to the legislature for any suggested remedies it deems proper for New York State to implement to respond to the injustices and wealth transfers caused by slavery and its legacies.
The “legislative intent” section of the bill recounts the history of slavery in New York, which is much more troubling and detailed than is commonly understood within New York, including the critical role of New York businesses in maintaining the slave system even after slavery was (partially) abolished within New York State in 1827. By some estimates, New York received 40% of U.S. cotton revenue through its financial firms, shipping businesses, and insurance companies. The wealth that was stolen through this system, and the role of these financial ties to today’s inequalities, will be further addressed by the commission.
The right to reparations has a long-standing history and is well-recognized in international law. There are many examples of reparations being implemented over the past century. For instance, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 gave surviving Japanese Americans $20,000 in reparations and a formal apology from President Reagan for their unjust and inexcusable mass incarceration during World War II. Similarly, when South Africa finally dismantled its racist system of apartheid, it established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to publicly address past wrongs and made a series of reparations recommendations. In 2003, President Thabo Mbeki announced reparations payments of approximately $4,000 each (i.e., approximately one year’s salary) to the 18,000 victims who testified before the commission, and further announced that community reparations programs, aiming to redress the past harms to the Black community as a whole, would be implemented as part of a broader program in South Africa. Over the years, Germany has also made various reparations payments to the victims of its actions during World War II, including dedicated reparations payments to enable remaining Holocaust survivors to receive monthly payments for the rest of their lives.
According to the International Center for Transitional Justice, there are five forms of reparations: (i) restitution, (ii) compensation, (iii) rehabilitation, (iv) satisfaction, and (v) guarantees of non-repetition. We can further examine this issue, and learn from the past, as we move towards a future that addresses the most heinous crimes that have occurred in this nation's history. Contrary to what has happened to address atrocities elsewhere, no comprehensive remedies have been offered to enslaved or freed Africans, or their descendants, in the United States.
“New York State is well-positioned to set the standard on what harm-based reparations should look like. This legislation puts the power in the hands of the community to determine the reparative path forward for New York. It is critically important for us as a society to not only acknowledge how the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and mass incarceration have impacted our nation, but the systematic solutions that will provide recourse to those affected,” stated Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus. “Reparations are not about any singular individual, it is about the collective advancement of equity in our society.”
“Slavery, segregation, mass incarceration, and other harms against people of African descent are woven into the fabric of America, including right here in New York. This legislation will make our state a leader in a necessary national conversation about restitution, and create a path towards addressing centuries of racial harm. It is imperative that we create this community commission on reparations this year.”
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About Michaelle C. Solages
Michaelle C. Solages is a member of the New York State Assembly, representing the 22nd Assembly District. She serves as the Deputy Majority Leader in the Assembly and Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus. For more information on Assemblywoman Solages, please visit https://nyassembly.gov/mem/Michaelle-C-Solages.
About Senator Jabari Brisport
Jabari Brisport is a member of the New York State Senate, representing the 25th Senate District. He serves as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Children & Families, and as a Chair of the Reparations & Political Prisoners Subcommittee of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus. For more information on Senator Brisport, please visit https://www.nysenate.gov/senators/jabari-brisport.