California Secretary of State Shirley Weber told a state-mandated reparations task force last week that atonement for slavery was long overdue and should include free kindergarten education in college for all African Americans.
“Education should be accessible to all African Americans, regardless of their background in terms of the resources they have. The University of California should be free for all black people in California, period,” Weber told the task force on Sept. 24, the second day of the virtual hearing.
Not only should higher education be free for black students, it should start earlier, according to Weber.
“I think you have to do those kinds of things that are bold,” she said. “Every black child born in California should basically go to preschool because they have to catch up with themselves and their mother who didn’t go there.”
Weber said she could not put a price tag on the cost of repairs and that no amount of money could compensate for the pain and suffering endured by generations of descendants of slaves.
Commenting on a descendant’s moving testimony at the hearing, Weber said, “The pain is real…and we try not to think about it often because it’s extremely painful.”
Because the effects of chattel slavery on the black community are so profound, reparations will take generations and should not be limited to monetary compensation, she said.
“You can’t buy it with $20,000,” she said. “So we have to look at every institution we’ve had, whether it’s homeownership and finance, and start asking ourselves when are we going to achieve equity and parity, and how do we accelerate that experience. for so many people?
Weber served as a California congresswoman before being named secretary of state in January. She drafted Assembly Bill 3121 to create the task force to study and develop proposed remedies for African Americans on September 30, 2020. On June 1, nine appointed members began the two-year process of writing apologies to descendants of slaves and recommending ways the state could compensate them.
She noted that the University of California system no longer considers SAT scores in its admissions process, which will help make college education more accessible to black students.
“We should make it available to every one of our kids who want to go to college and who can qualify, and most of them can because we know the qualifications at the University of California have so much changed,” Weber said.
“We no longer need the SAT. We don’t need all those things we thought [were] the Holy Grail that we would never give up. We’ve given up on all of that, and we haven’t lost the quality, the expertise, or the stature of the University of California.
A full set of repairs “isn’t something that will happen in a year,” Weber said. “I hope this commission decides that there needs to be a continued statewide presence on reparations,” including legislation, assessment, and evaluation “to get us to where we need to be.”
“This 400-year challenge will not be solved in 400 days,” she said, referring to the transatlantic slave trade. “It will take much more than that and a commitment from the state of California, the world’s fifth largest economy, to make this happen.”
Some San Diego nonprofit groups are raising money to help entice more black families to buy homes, creating generational wealth working to close the racial equity gap between white families and them, it said. she declared.
The recent public hearings concluded the third of 10 public hearings the task force is scheduled to hold.
In his personal testimony, Weber spoke of the devastating impact slavery had on his own family.
His father, David Nash, was a sharecropper in Hope, Arkansas during the segregationist Jim Crow era.
Nash was forced to flee the South when he was threatened by a mob of lynchers for “demanding some sense of fairness and justice,” Weber said.
The family fled to California when she was 3, where she continued to face racial discrimination, she said.
His grandfather was a disciplinarian who was always “very afraid of white people”.
“I could never figure that out when I was a kid,” Weber said of his grandfather. “I couldn’t understand it.”
As Weber grew older, she began to understand the reasons for her distrustful and “sometimes spiteful” disposition, she said.
Her family’s struggle inspired her to become a civil rights activist and politician. Determined to make a difference, Weber attended UCLA, where she received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at the age of 26. Prior to receiving her doctorate, she became a professor at San Diego State University, where she retired from the Department of Africana Studies after 40 years as a faculty member and several terms as director of department.
Weber served four terms in the California Assembly representing San Diego, a seat his daughter, Assemblyman Akilah Weber (D-San Diego), now holds.
California Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), a member of the task force, praised Weber for his efforts to create the reparations task force and for drafting Assembly Bill 101, which would require all state high school students complete the California Department. of the Education Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) in order to graduate.
“I think it also plays into the connection between ethnic studies and you for the author of this bill, because we heard a lot of people this morning and yesterday say, ‘Well, I didn’t know the history because it has not been taught. ‘ So I also want to thank you for ethnic studies,” Bradford said.
The Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) has come under intense scrutiny from parent groups across California. Many parents and conservative groups say the curriculum, which is based on the neo-Marxist concept of critical race theory, divides and harms students.
“Ethnic studies are key,” Weber said in response to Bradford.
AB 101 passed the Assembly and Senate floors, but California Governor Gavin Newsom had not signed the controversial bill into law as of September 28.
“From Pipeline to Jail”
Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), who is also on the task force, called for continued criminal justice reform in the state.
Noting that he and Bradford serve as chairs of the Assembly and Senate Public Safety Committees, respectively, he asked Weber for his continued support.
“You have two African American men in charge of public safety,” Jones-Sawyer said.
“Dr. Weber, we need to look at probably the last of the last remaining plantations on this planet, which is our correctional system within our prison system. The prison plantation system continues to harm thousands upon thousands of our fellow citizens.
Jones-Sawyer cited Senate Bill 2 as a step toward such reforms.
“I know you still have scars on your backs from getting the use of force bill through the police with SB 2 decertification. We all got scars on your backs…from doing this what we needed to do to make sure these laws were put in place,” he said.
Weber agreed with Jones-Sawyer on the need for reform of the penal system.
“There is no doubt that the penal system itself and the way it has operated in this country is truly an embarrassment to this nation. It should be,” she said. doesn’t have such a large prison population, because California had 180,000 people in prison when I became a member of the assembly.”
The state prison population is now about 90,000, she said.
“We’ve cut it in about half, and people are upset about it. So you’re going to see more and more efforts to legislate or to create more crimes and more crimes than before to incarcerate more individuals,” Weber said.
“We need to start making sure there is rehabilitation in our penal system. There is no effort to try to do this.
“We also have to manage our K-12 system. It’s the pipeline to prison.