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San Francisco apologizes to black residents for 'discrimination,' as calls continue for reparations

California was admitted to the Union as a "free state."

Published: February 28, 2024 1:52pm

San Francisco is apologizing to its black residents for "discrimination" and "targeted acts of violence," among other things, but residents are still calling for reparations.

"On behalf of the City and County of San Francisco, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors offers its deepest apologies to all African Americans and their descendants who came to San Francisco and were victims of systemic and structural discrimination, institutionalize[d] racism, targeted acts of violence, and atrocities," the city's Board of Supervisors said in a resolution that passed unanimously Tuesday. 

The San Francisco board had given unanimous support in March 2023 for reparations that would give eligible black residents $5 million each and guaranteed yearly income of at least $97,000 for the next quarter of a millennium.

"We have much more work to do but this apology most certainly is an important step," Supervisor Shamann Walton, the only black board member, said. 

The apology was the first recommendation of more than 100 made by the city's African American Reparations Advisory Committee, which also had proposed the $5 million reparation payments.

Mayor London Breed, who is also black, has said reparations should be handled on a national level. Her office eliminated a $4 million proposed reparations office this year amid budget cuts.

Many residents expressed a desire for more than an apology from the city.

"While this resolution is a commendable step forward, it is imperative that we also prioritize reparations to rectify historical injustices," resident Cheryl Thornton told the Board of Supervisors before the resolution was voted on.

"This apology is long overdue. Reparations are overdue," resident Tami Bryant said.

California was admitted to the Unition as a free state without slavery in 1850, but the state had a "Fugitive Slave Law" that ensured enslaved black people did not have a right to freedom if they entered California when it was a territory, per the California Historical Society.

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