New Jersey Lawmakers Propose Task Force to Explore Slavery Reparations

New Jersey lawmakers introduced a bill Thursday to establish a task force that would explore the possibility of slavery reparations.

Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter (D-Passaic), who leads the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus, said that because she is the great-granddaughter of sharecroppers, the issue is personal.

“This is not about a southern-rooted entity of slavery, but about the harms and slavery codes that impacted New Jersey,” Sumter told reporters during a press conference.

She continued:

All of those injustices were by design, so we’re looking forward to this task force really working with bright minds to come up with reasonable solutions that we can take a peek at for reparations for the citizens of the state of New Jersey. New Jersey will be an example for our country and for the world to look at as far as how we repair these irrepairable harms and move into a future that will be great for generations to come.

“If approved, the panel would research the history of slavery in the Garden State, any racial discrimination and disparity that stemmed from it, and how the state could help make up for it,” according to NJ.com.

New Jersey was the last northern state to abolish slavery, with the passage of a gradual emancipation law in 1804. It is the sixth state in the nation to consider reparations.

However, a recent poll found that a majority of Americans do not think the government should pay cash reparations for slavery, according to Breitbart News.

“The Gallup poll said 67 percent of Americans believe the government should not make the payments, while 29 percent of those who participated said they were in favor of it, including 73 percent of black Americans,” reported Breitbart News.

Rev. Charles Boyer, founder of the nonprofit Salvation and Social Justice organization, said the state needs to do more than just apologize for its participation in the slave trade.

“New Jersey’s complicit role in slavery is only the beginning of a constant structural set of state-sanctioned discriminatory abuse of policies against black people,” Boyer stated.

He continued:

New Jersey is guilty of failing to combat redlining in housing and complicit in the racist intent of home rule, which has led to hyper-segregated poverty, exclusion from economic prosperity and segregated schools. New Jersey is guilty of racial profiling from the State Police and unjustified use of force by municipal police, guilty of persistent racism in the drug war, guilty of being the worst state in the nation in regards to racial disparities in the criminal and youth justice system, guilty of disenfranchising black people from the right to vote and disguising it as a criminal justice issue.

Officials noted that members of the task force would determine who is eligible for compensation and also educate the community on the issue.

“Historically we’ve heard of 40 acres and a mule. Obviously that is something that is not applicable today. Through this commission, we will come up with different methods to make sure that African Americans are made whole,” Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake (D-Essex) concluded.

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