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New York to Establish Commission on Slavery Reparations

New York State will form a committee focused on contemplating possible reparations for addressing the continuing, damaging effects of slavery in the region, according to legislation recently signed by Governor Kathy Hochul.

Kathy Hochul New York slavery reparations

This measure coincides with various attempts across American cities and states to determine suitable ways of grappling with the nation’s oppressive history. It aligns with the establishment of comparable task forces in states like Illinois and California.

At the signing ceremony of the bill in New York City, Governor Hochul, a member of the Democratic Party, commented, "We in New York pride ourselves in taking the moral high ground on the issue of slavery, which we typically attribute to the Confederacy and the Southern states. However, it is crucial to recognize that our own state prospered from the institution of slavery. It is an unsightly aspect of our history, yet it is indisputably true."

The new legislation, passed by state lawmakers back in June, mandates a comprehensive study by the commission into the level of federal and state government backing of slavery. The committee will additionally explore how New York State, which ended slavery entirely by 1827, participated in the transportation of enslaved Africans and investigate the continuous impact of slavery on today's Black New Yorkers.

A team of nine will constitute the commission, required to present a report a year post their first meeting. Although they could suggest financial restitution, such recommendations would not be obligatory. The purpose of these findings is to prompt alterations in policies and trigger initiatives and programs that aim to counteract the negative impacts of slavery on the Black community in New York.

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