When California state assemblywoman Shirley Weber introduced a bill last year to study reparations for Black Americans, she was worried people would not accept that racial inequality and injustice were still alive and well.
Instead, the bill came up for a vote two weeks after the death of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, at the hands of a white police officer spurred a nationwide reckoning on that very topic. It passed the assembly on June 11 with a 56-5 vote.
“Maybe we’ll be a model for what can happen at the federal level,” Weber told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Some of the political actors do believe that they have a better chance of passing these bills in the midst of the current wave of protests,” said William Darity, a professor at Duke University who co-authored a book on reparations.
Small-scale initiatives are admirable, but anything less than a national effort will be insufficient to close the racial wealth gap, said Darity.