Speaker Heastie and Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus Chair Michaelle C. Solages today announced that the Assembly has passed legislation to create the New York State Community Commission on Reparations Remedies to examine the impact of slavery and subsequent discrimination and systemic racism against Africans Americans, and to propose appropriate remedies and reparations in addition to exploring policy and legislative solutions (A.7691, Solages).
“The institution of slavery in our state and nation laid the groundwork for the racial, economic and institutional injustices that have plagued communities for decades,” Speaker Heastie said. “This is a historic piece of legislation that will confront the insidious history of slavery and the way its legacy continues to affect Black New Yorkers today.”
“Reparations is about more than monetary compensation – it’s about atoning and a guarantee of nonrepetition,” Assemblymember Solages said. “We need to change our political structures and laws to ensure Black New Yorkers are empowered. This is an important step in changing a long history of systemic racism and discrimination.”
The legislation would establish the New York State Community Commission on Reparations Remedies to examine the institution of slavery, de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against people of African descent, and the impact of these forces on living African Americans. The commission would be tasked with making determinations regarding appropriate remedies and reparation, as well as examining potential policy and legislative solutions for damages done to people and communities.
Prior to the American Revolution, there were more enslaved Africans in New York City than any city except Charleston, South Carolina. During this period, enslaved Africans accounted for 20 percent of the population. New York gradually implemented laws giving freedom to enslaved Africans, but still allowed non-residents to bring their enslaved Africans into the state until 1841. The abolition of slavery did not end discriminatory, racist practices. Black Americans in New York have faced voter suppression, redlining and housing discrimination, biased policing, food apartheid and disproportionate rates of incarceration.