New York took a step closer toward reparations for slavery on Wednesday.
The state Assembly passed a bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Charles Barron, that would set up a commission to study slavery and its impact on Black New Yorkers. It would have the commission determine the amount of reparations and who should get them.
“Some people say, ‘well I didn’t oppress you, my European ancestors came at the turn of the century. Why should I have to pay?’ I don’t care if you came here last night,” Barron said. “You benefited from the ill-gotten gains.”
Reparations for Black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved and for other racial discrimination have been debated in the U.S. since slavery ended in 1865. Now they are being discussed by colleges and universities with ties to slavery and by local governments looking to make cash payments to Black residents.
Five political appointees would be on the commission along with six people from Black pro-reparations groups if the bill in New York is signed into law.
The legislation has been sent to the state Senate.