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ACR-130 African descendants of slaves in the United States.(2019-2020)

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Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 130

Relative to African descendants of slaves in the United States.

[ Filed with Secretary of State  September 26, 2019. ]


ACR 130, Weber. African descendants of slaves in the United States.
This measure would recognize the need to pursue avenues to implement proposed reparations for the descendants of African slaves in the United States. The measure would further recognize August 2019 as marking 400 years since Africans were brought to Virginia.
Fiscal Committee: NO  

WHEREAS, August 2019 will mark 400 years since the first arrival of Africans to present-day America, and the United States Congress has established the 400 Years of African-American History Commission to commemorate the historic heritage and contributions that Americans of African descent have made to help shape the cultural, academic, social, economic, and moral attributes of this nation; and
WHEREAS, In August 1619, the first documented Africans arrived in the English colony of Virginia. The group, recorded upon arrival as “20 and odd Negros,” was part of a larger group of West Africans enslaved by Portuguese slave traders. They were on their way to Veracruz, Mexico, aboard a Portuguese ship when they were captured off the coast of Mexico by an English warship and transported to Virginia, where they were put ashore at what is now Hampton, Virginia, and sold as involuntary laborers or indentured servants; and
WHEREAS, Approximately 4,000,000 Africans and their descendants were enslaved in the United States and colonies that became the United States between 1619 and 1865; and
WHEREAS, The institution of chattel slavery was constitutionally and statutorily sanctioned by the government of the United States from 1789 through 1865; and
WHEREAS, Chattel slavery flourished in the United States and constituted an immoral and inhumane deprivation of life, liberty, citizenship rights, and cultural heritage, and denied enslaved persons the fruits of their own labor; and
WHEREAS, The first mention of African enslavement in California was in 1537; and
WHEREAS, In the 1840s and 1850s, Members of the California Legislature fought to ensure that free Black people were prohibited from immigrating to or living in California; and
WHEREAS, California was admitted to the Union in 1850, and became a “free state,” but the government continued to perpetuate, condone, and profit from practices that continued to brutalize and disadvantage Africans in America and their descendants, including sharecropping, convict leasing, Jim Crow laws, redlining, unequal education, and disproportionate treatment at the hands of the criminal justice system; and
WHEREAS, Approximately 2,200 African Americans resided in California by 1852; and
WHEREAS, In the early 1850s, the California Legislature and the judiciary constructed a web of statutes and legal rulings that undercut enslaved people’s claims to freedom and committed the state government to compelling slave obedience; and
WHEREAS, As a result of historical and continued discrimination, African American descendants of slaves continue to suffer debilitating economic, educational, and health hardships, including, but not limited to, an unemployment rate more than twice the current White unemployment rate and an average of less than one-sixteenth of the wealth of White families, a disparity which has worsened, not improved, over time; and
WHEREAS, A preponderance of scholarly and legal evidentiary documentation constitutes the basis for inquiry into the ongoing effects of the institution of chattel slavery and its legacy of persistent systemic structures of discrimination on living African descendants of slaves in the United States; and
WHEREAS, Modern conceptualizations of reparations for descendants of African slaves have resulted in research without implementation of proposed recommendations; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate thereof concurring, That the Legislature recognizes the need to pursue avenues to implement proposed reparations for the descendants of African slaves in the United States; and be it further
Resolved, That the Legislature hereby recognizes August 2019 as marking 400 years since Africans were brought to Virginia, initiating several centuries of slavery; and be it further
Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly transmit copies of this measure to the author for appropriate distribution.