Governor Hochul Continues New York’s Leadership on Racial Equity, Signs Legislation Establishing Commission to Study Reparations and Racial Justice

Governor Hochul Continues New York’s Leadership on Racial Equity, Signs Legislation Establishing Commission to Study Reparations and Racial Justice

Editorial credit: lev radin /

By Governor’s Press Office | December 19, 2023

Listen to New York Gov. Hochul on signing the bill on reparations below and here:

Listen to Senator James Sanders speaking about the reparations bill here.

Listen to Brian Figeroux speaking about reparations here.

S.1163-A/A.7691 Establishes the New York State Community Commission on Reparations Remedies and Acknowledges the Fundamental Injustice and Inhumanity of Slavery

Commission to Examine the Institution of Slavery, Subsequent Racial and Economic Discrimination Against People of African Descent, and the Impact on Living People of African Descent

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed legislation to continue New York’s leadership on racial equity by creating a new commission to study reparations and racial justice. This commission acknowledges the horrific injustice of slavery and will be tasked with examining the legacy of slavery, subsequent discrimination against people of African descent, and the impact these forces continue to have in the present day.

“Today, we are continuing our efforts to right the wrongs of the past by acknowledging the painful legacy of slavery in New York,” Governor Hochul said. “We have a moral obligation to reckon with all parts of our shared history as New Yorkers, and this commission marks a critical step forward in these efforts.”

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “I would like to thank Governor Kathy Hochul for signing this transformative legislation into law and for lending her support in helping New York begin our process of reckoning with the past. I am grateful to Senator James Sanders for championing this cause, standing as a stalwart for positive change. As Senate Majority Leader, I am also proud to have worked diligently to help guide this historic legislation to passage in the State Senate. Together, New York can shape a future marked by justice and equity.”

Speaker of the Assembly Carl E. Heastie said, “Today marks a momentous occasion in New York history. African Americans have been subjected to racial, economic, and institutional injustices that have plagued our communities for decades – a reality we must still acknowledge. Although we have come a long way from the institution of slavery, its remnants can still be felt and require more insightful thought and change. With the creation of the New York State Community Commission on Reparations Remedies, we can create legislative solutions and political structures that can make lasting impact. Thank you to Governor Hochul, Senator Sanders, and Assemblywoman Solages for their hard work in making today a reality. Let’s continue to move New York forward.”

“We have a moral obligation to reckon with all parts of our shared history as New Yorkers, and this commission marks a critical step forward in these efforts.”

Legislation S.1163-A/A.7691 acknowledges the significant role the institution of slavery played in the establishment and history of New York. The legislation establishes the community commission on reparations remedies, which will be composed of nine members who are especially qualified to serve by virtue of their expertise, education, training, or lived experience in the fields of African or American studies, the criminal legal system, human rights, civil rights, reparations organizations, and other relevant fields.

Prior to the American Revolution, there were more enslaved Africans in New York City than in any other city except Charleston, South Carolina, and the population of enslaved Africans accounted for 20 percent of New York’s population, while 40 percent of colonial New York household owned enslaved Africans. This was an integral part of the development of the State of New York, and the consequences of the institution of slavery – and subsequently, discrimination and systemic racism borne of that institution – can still be observed today.

State Senator James Sanders said, “Today, we plant a seed of hope, not just for the City of New York and New York State, but for the nation. The bill number S.1163A is a testament to the power of persistence, of unwavering voices demanding justice. Let this be a beacon, a call to action for every corner of this country to confront their own histories, to acknowledge the injustices that bind us, and to work together towards a future where reparations are not just a word, but a lived reality for all. I want to express my deepest gratitude to Governor Kathy Hochul for signing this historic bill into law. This is a monumental step forward in our fight for racial justice, and it would not have been possible without the Governor’s courage and commitment. The bill number S.1163A isn’t a finish line, but a starting gate. The reparations commission it establishes is a vessel for truth, a platform for voices silenced for too long. Their findings will not be easy, but they will be necessary. They will guide us towards reparations not just for the past, but for the future, building a legacy of equity where every child, regardless of their heritage, can dream without the shackles of historical injustice. I believe that reparations are essential to achieving true racial justice in our country. We must acknowledge and address the harms of the past in order to create a more just and equitable future for all.”

Also Read: New York State Senator James Sanders Jr. and Assemblymember Chantel Jackson Call on Governor Kathy Hochul to Sign Reparations Legislation During Panel Discussion in the Bronx

Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages said, “In acknowledging New York’s history, we confront the high cost of racial injustices. By Governor Hochul signing into effect the Reparations & Remedies Commission, New York State will empower communities to actively participate in shaping the essential path forward toward unity and healing. Reparations lay the groundwork for a future where all New Yorkers can thrive and prosper. I commend the Legislature, the Governor, and advocates for their collaborative efforts, I am proud to have sponsored this legislation and eager to continue advancing together in shaping our shared future.”

President of the NAACP New York State Conference Dr. Hazel N. Dukes said, “With the establishment of this commission, it will give us the chance to review, and look at the history of African Americans in New York State. And when the report is done, it will give us the necessary tools – where we should go for economic growth, for quality health, equity in education, job training, job creation, housing – and many more things. This is a great day for New York State moving in the right direction of inclusion for all people. Thanks to the Governor and our legislature’s leaders, for taking this tremendous step.”

The commission is tasked with examining the legacy of slavery and its lingering negative effects on people currently living in the State of New York, with the goal of issuing issue a report comprised of recommendations for appropriate action to address these longstanding inequities. This written report of findings and recommendations must be submitted to the temporary president of the senate, the speaker of the assembly, the minority leaders of the senate and the assembly, and the Governor of the State of New York no later than one year after the date of the first meeting of the commission.

FPWA CEO and NYC Racial Justice Commission Chair (2021-2022) Jennifer Jones Austin said, “Governor Hochul’s signing of Legislation S. 1163-A/A. 7691 puts New York State on the clear and unprecedented path to redressing the egregious wrongs of slavery in New York State and the harms that have persisted in all the years since. New York’s participation in the slave trade left not only scars but a gaping wound on people and communities of African origin that has yet to heal because of slavery and resulting structural and systemic racism. This legislation, which establishes a commission to examine these injustices and chart a pathway forward, paves the way for reparations for our state and potentially for the nation. Thank you, Governor Hochul, for your steadfast and unwavering commitment to racial equity.”

Racial Justice Initiatives at the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota) Founding Director Dr. Yohuru Williams said, “I commend the state of New York for its bold and praiseworthy step towards addressing historical injustices through the creation of this new commission. Having been deeply engaged in analogous initiatives in St. Paul, Minnesota, Williams continues, “I recognize the significance of acknowledging and redressing the profound impact of historical inequalities and the difficult but important work ahead for New York. In this pivotal moment, marked by a heightened awareness of systemic racism, the commitment of states like New York and thoughtful leaders like Governor Kathy Hochul to embark on the crucial work of reparations underscores a shared responsibility to reckon with our nation’s past. It is through such efforts that we pave the way for healing, justice, and a more equitable future, reaffirming our collective commitment to dismantling the legacies of systemic racism.”

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