Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Community Members and Elected Leaders Unite at Historic Event Calling on Governor Hochul to Sign Reparations Commission Bill into Law

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Senator James Sanders Jr., Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, Community Members and Elected Leaders Unite at Historic Event in Harlem During Harlem Week Calling on Governor Hochul to Sign Reparations Commission Legislation into Law

(New York, NY) Senator James Sanders Jr., Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, and other elected leaders brought together community members calling on Governor Kathy Hochul to sign a bill (S.1163-A/SANDERS Same as A.7691/Solages) into law to establish the New York State Community Commission on Reparations Remedies. The Commission would research the harms from slavery and after slavery against African Americans in New York and recommend remedies and reparations.

When signed, it would be the second state in the nation after California to form a reparations commission. This legislation acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the City of New York and the State of New York.

Senator James Sanders Jr., Chair of the NY State Senate Select Majority Task Force on Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises, and Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, Chair of The New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, hosted the historic Panel Discussion entitled “The Road to Reparations” today at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. The event was open to the public and was part of the slate of events featured in the 2023 Harlem Week celebration.

Senator James Sanders Jr said, “The impact on economic inequality and economic development by the robbery of slavery, American apartheid (AKA Jim Crow), lynching, redlining, mass incarceration and other evils, make it impossible for African Americans to catch up. If we want America to be American for everyone, justice through reparations must take place. What better place than the Black Mecca (AKA Harlem); what better time than Harlem Week; is there a better intellectual venue than the Schomburg Center to hold such an historic event? I think not. I congratulate all those who participated in making this a successful and inspiring event to advance the goal of achieving reparations and justice for African Americans.”

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NYS Senator From Queens James Sanders Jr.

"New York State is well-positioned to set the standard for what harm-based reparations should look like. This legislation puts the power in the hands of the community to determine the reparative path forward for New York.

It is critically important for us as a society to not only acknowledge how the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and mass incarceration have impacted our nation, but also the systematic solutions that will provide recourse to those affected," stated
 Assemblywoman Michaelle C. Solages, Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus. "Reparations are not about any singular individual; they are about collectively advancing equity in our society."

"The vestige of chattel slavery resonates throughout our State and our nation," said Senator Cordell Cleare who represents Harlem and was a co-sponsor of the bill. "The bodies of our ancestors are buried throughout New York. Their hands literally built the foundation for the economy that only the most privileged can fully benefit.

My work on this legislation began long before I was elected to this office and I stand with my colleagues and community in asking Governor Hochul to sign this bill into law so that we can begin the process of repairing the harm that caused the systemic racism that has impacted the Black community for generations."

K.C. Matthews, Deputy Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, stated, “The pursuit of racial justice, of which reparations in some form are a part, has been sought since the earliest manifestations of slavery. That it remains unfilled is a testament to the complexity of the issue and the unwillingness of some to mend the wounds with tangible action. As the conversation continues, the quest for redress continues, and so must engagement and resolve.”

Other sponsors of the event included: U.S. Representative Adriano Espaillat; Senator Cordell Cleare; Assemblymember Inez Dickens; Assemblymember Al Taylor; Assemblymember Eddie Gibbs; and Democratic Nominee CD9 Yusef Salaam. Participants in the event included: Senator James Sanders Jr.; Assemblymember Michaelle Solages; Senator Cordell Cleare, Chair of the NYS Senate Committee on Aging; Assemblymember Inez Dickens; Aaron Mair, first African American to be elected National President of the Sierra Club; K.C. Matthews, Deputy Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Gail Lewis, Professor, Queensborough Community College; and Joy Bivins, Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

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