Next Steps for Black Reparations in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco regulators have backed the idea of ​​paying reparations to blacks, but whether members will agree to a lump sum Payments of 5 million dollars to each eligible person, or to any of the more than 100 other recommendations made by an advisory committee, will not be known until later this year.

The idea of ​​black reparations is not new, but the federal government’s promise to give 40 acres and a mule to newly freed slaves never came to fruition. It wasn’t until George Floyd, a black man, was killed in police custody in 2020 that reparations movements began to spread in earnest across the country.

The state of California and the cities of Boston and San Francisco are among the jurisdictions trying to atone not only for slavery but for decades of racist policies and laws that systematically denied black Americans access to property, education and the ability to building generational wealth.


Black migration to San Francisco increased sharply in the 1940s due to dockwork, but racially restrictive covenants and redlining limited where people could live. As black residents were able to establish a thriving neighborhood in Fillmore, government redevelopment plans in the 1960s coerced residents, stripped them of their property and decimated black businesses, proponents say.

Today, less than 6% of San Francisco’s black residents are black, but they make up almost 40% of the city’s homeless population.

Supporters include the San Francisco NAACP, although it said the board should reject the $5 million payments and instead focus on making amends through education, jobs, housing, health care and a black cultural center in San Francisco. The President of the San Francisco Branch is Rev. Amos C. Brown, who serves on both the San Francisco Statewide and Restoration Boards.


Critics say California and San Francisco never advocated slavery, and today there are no longer any slave-owning or enslaved people. According to critics, it is unfair that local taxpayers, some of whom are immigrants, are bearing the cost of structural racism and discriminatory government policies.

A conservative estimate by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution says it would cost every non-black family in San Francisco at least $600,000 in taxes to pay for the most expensive of the recommendations: the $5 million per person payout , a guaranteed income of at least $97,000 a year for 250 years, personal debt elimination, and conversion of public housing to condominiums for sale at $1.

A Pew Research Center 2022 survey found that 68% of US respondents opposed reparations, compared to 30% for it. Nearly 80% of black respondents supported reparations. More than 90% of Republicans or those-leaning to the Republican opposed reparations, while Democrats and those-leaning to the Democrats were divided.


It is unclear. The advisory committee that made the recommendations says it’s not its job to figure out how to fund San Francisco’s atonement and repair.

That would be up to local politicians, two of whom expressed interest in raising the issue with voters on Tuesday. San Francisco supervisor Matt Dorsey said he would support a voting measure to enshrine reparations as part of the budget in the San Francisco charter. Shamann Walton, the head of the reparation agency, supports the idea.


Educational recommendations include establishing an Afrocentric K-12 school in San Francisco; hiring and retention of black teachers; prescribing a core Black history and culture curriculum; and offering cash to at-risk students for meeting educational benchmarks.

Health recommendations include free mental health, prenatal care, and rehabilitation treatments for impoverished Black San Franciscans, victims of violent crime, and formerly incarcerated.

The Advisory Committee also recommends giving black San Franciscans priority in job opportunities and training, and finding ways to start black businesses.


There is no deadline for managers to agree on a way forward. The board plans to consider proposals for reparations in September after the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee issued a final report in June.


In 2020, California became the first state to form a reparations task force. But almost two years after its work, it still has important decisions to make who is entitled to payment and how much. The task force has until July 1 to submit a final report on its reparations recommendations, which would then be incorporated into legislation for consideration by lawmakers.

The task force has spent several meetings discussing timeframes and payment calculations for five harms black people face, including government confiscation of property, discrimination in housing and homelessness, and mass incarceration. The task force also debates state residency requirements.

Previously, the State Committee voted to limit financial reparations to people descended from enslaved or freed black people in the United States beginning in the 19th century.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Next Steps for Black Reparations in San Francisco

Sarah Y. Kim

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