BOS President Shamann Walton leads Reparations plan for Black San Franciscans!

Our District 10 Sup. Shamann Walton, president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, expects to make his mark in history with the first comprehensive reparations plan in a major US city. He had introduced the legislation to create a reparations advisory board in October. Here, he speaks passionately at a Juneteenth 2020 rally to commemorate the life of George Floyd and others killed by police. It’s important to remember that atrocities against Black people continue, most famously in still rampant police murders and, just as devastating, such assaults as the economic lockout that keeps most Blacks poor and exploited. – Photo: Kevin Hume, SF Examiner

by Natalie Gee

In a historic vote, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed 15 members to the African American Reparations Advisory Committee. Over the past two years, District 10 Supervisor and Board President Shamann Walton led the efforts to create the first of its kind advisory committee to create a comprehensive reparations plan for African Americans. 

African Americans were enslaved in the United States from 1619 to 1865, when slavery officially ended with the ratification of the 13th Amendment. However, the trauma of slavery remained in generations throughout the African American community and exists today. 

Prior to the enslavement of African Americans, this land was stolen from Native Americans, their families were torn apart. Soon after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, Chinese were excluded from this country through the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. 

In recent history, Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during World War II, Arab Americans have been targeted since 9/11 and, currently, Latinx immigrant children have been torn away from their families and locked in cages. The United States has a history of inflicting trauma on communities of color and that trauma continues to exist in all of our communities. 

“The appointment of this reparations advisory committee is an historical event, as I am unaware of any other legislative body in place to prioritize injustices and create a true reparations plan in a package for Black people,” said Board President Shamann Walton. 

The African American Reparations Advisory Committee will gather input from the African American community to achieve a comprehensive and true reparations plan.

“We are a first in San Francisco! I just want to thank all my colleagues, Mayor London Breed and all advisory committee applicants for stepping up to ensure that we not only improve outcomes for Black people in San Francisco, but also that we repair the damage of the past and make compensation tangible in order to overturn negative outcomes and create generational wealth. We had an extremely difficult decision narrowing the committee down to 15 and now the real work begins!”

“San Francisco has the opportunity to lead the way in addressing the harm that far too many African Americans families have experienced,” said Dr. Sheryl Davis, director of the Human Rights Commission. 

“When my family looks over our family tree, we see the descendants of slaves. We don’t have to look very far to see our ancestors who were slaves. That trauma and history was passed down, but not the wealth or income they generated on the plantations. I look forward to working with this committee to explore how to restore, repair and transform the damage from the past. Thanks to President Walton for his leadership and courage to advance this work.”

The African American Reparations Advisory Committee will gather input from the African American community on prioritizing areas on education, housing, violence prevention, workforce development, economic opportunities, financial stability, small businesses, transportation, health disparities, food insecurity and over-criminalization to achieve a comprehensive and true reparations plan to alleviate the residue of oppression and slavery that continues to plague the African American community in San Francisco. 

Newly appointed members to the African American Reparations Advisory Committee include: James Lance Taylor, Tinisch Hollins, Eric McDonnell, Rev. Dr. Amos Brown, Omerede “Rico” Hamilton, Nikcole Cunningham, Gloria Berry, Daniel Landry, Tiffany Walker-Carter, Gwendolyn Brown, Anietie Ekanem, Starr Williams, Shakeyla O’Cain, Laticia Erving and Yolanda Harris. Members will serve indefinite terms and create a comprehensive reparations plan over the next two years. The first draft is due in 18 months.

Natalie Gee is Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton’s chief of staff. Reach her at natalie.gee@sfgov.org or 415-619-0878.