ALBANY, N.Y. (PIX11) — New York took a tentative step closer toward reparations for slavery on Wednesday. The state Assembly passed a bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Charles Barron, that would set up a commission to study slavery and its impact on Black New Yorkers.
“Some people say, ‘Well I didn’t oppress you. My European ancestors came at the turn of the century. Why should I have to pay?’ I don’t care if you came here last night,” Barron said. “You benefited from the ill-gotten gains.”
Assembly Bill A2619A would have the commission determine the amount of reparations and who should get them. Five political appointees would be on the commission, along with six people from Black pro-reparations groups, if the bill in New York were signed into law. However, it did not advance in the Senate before the legislative session ended on Thursday.
Reparations for Black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved and for other racial discrimination have been debated in the U.S. since slavery ended in 1865. Now they are being discussed by colleges and universities with ties to slavery and by local governments looking to make cash payments to Black residents.