December 11, 2023

PRESS RELEASE: Over 100 Groups and Individuals Call on Governor Hochul to Enact New York State Reparations Commission

December 11, 2023


Over 100 Groups and Individuals Call on Governor Hochul to Enact New York State Reparations Commission

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – Dozens of grassroots organizations in New York and around the world submitted a letter to Governor Kathy Hochul today urging her to sign S1163A/A7691legislation to create a New York State community commission on reparations remedieswithout further delay. A press conference will take place in front of Governor Hochul’s Manhattan office, located at 633 Third Avenue (40th Street), on Monday, December 11, 2023, at 4:00 p.m. ET to announce plans for intensifying the demand for the Governor to sign the reparations bill.

In early June 2023, New York made history by becoming the second state after California to pass legislation out of its Assembly and Senate which recommends the establishment of a reparations commission. The body would be tasked with examining the long-lasting effects of chattel slavery and racial discrimination in New York, as well as developing proposals to address ongoing injustices.

The new letter in support of S1163A/A7691endorsed by 108 organizations, faith groups, and community leaderscalls on Governor Hochul to sign the bill before it expires at midnight on December 31, 2023. The release of this letter follows a renewed public push by legislators, led by bill sponsors Senator James Sanders Jr. of Queens and Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages of Long Island, and recent youth-led demonstrations including a rally held last week in Washington Square Park, calling on the Governor to sign the bill. 

The need for swift action on reparations is underscored by last week’s release of a groundbreaking report by New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, which found that white households in the state have a median net wealth of $276,900 as compared to just $18,870 for Black households. This racial wealth gap is one key indicator of intergenerational harm to Black New Yorkers. Documented racial disparities in education, employment, health, housing, and mass incarceration have further compounded this damage.

Such stark inequities are the result of past and present federal, state, and local policy, and they can be undone through policy. Moving forward with S1163A/A7691 is a critical, necessary step toward ensuring an equal, thriving future for Black New Yorkers.

Our broad grassroots coalition encourages Governor Hochul to sign this historic legislation into law with all due speed. Together, we can create a better, safer, and more equal New York for all.

Antar Keith, chair of the Democrats Abroad Reparations Task Force and NY-18 voter: 

“We are on the precipice of making not only Black history, but also national history in the State of New York. The Democrats Abroad Reparations Task Force—embedded in a global state party with more than 21,000 New York voters—initiated this letter campaign to support reparations in the heart of global commerce. What brings us together is our desire for truth, justice, and healing for Black New Yorkers and, through their repair, all New Yorkers. No matter where we reside on Earth, New Yorkers of all backgrounds won't rest until Governor Hochul signs the New York State reparations bill. All eyes are now on New York, and the world, indeed, is watching.”


Nicole Carty, executive director of Get Free and resident of Brooklyn:

“Our generation calls on Governor Hochul to take a critical step toward making freedom and equality real in New York by signing legislation creating a public commission to reckon with the whole truth of our state’s history and recommend how to repair the ongoing impacts of white supremacy on Black New Yorkers from enslavement to present-day. Gen Z and Millennials know that the lies and laws of supremacy created to dehumanize Black people are a threat to dignity and freedom for all. The only way to make an equal future for Black New Yorkers is to reckon with the lies, laws, and violence of supremacy and repair the harm from its foundation. The data backs this. Our lived experiences back this. Governor Hochul has an opportunity today to lead us forward.” 


Trevor Smith, executive director of BLIS Collective:

“History sits on the Governor's desk, and with a simple stroke of her pen, she could initiate the imperative process of healing and repair that our state urgently requires. New Yorkers deserve a state committed to holding itself accountable for fostering a just and equal society. This task force represents an enormous opportunity to confront the remnants of slavery and anti-Black discrimination perpetuated by both public and private entities across the state. The Governor must act decisively, signing this bill to usher in a new era of justice for not only Black New Yorkers but all New Yorkers.” 


Enith Williams, founder and executive director of the Reparations Finance Lab: 

Closing the racial wealth gap will require intentional capital allocation to counter centuries of racialized public policies and sustained harmful decisions by the private sector. These gaps remain significant even when Black New Yorkers attain the education and skills that one would expect to result in positive economic gains. The fact is that the median white New Yorker with a high school degree still has a net worth over three times greater than the median Black New Yorker with a bachelor’s degree.  A Reparations study and firm commitment to closing this gap should be supported by all New Yorkers.”


Richard Brookshire, CEO and co-founder of the Black Veterans Project: 

The economic and social fabric of New York is built on the legacies of slavery, segregation, systemic discrimination, and divestment from Black communities across our state; generations of intentional harm made worse by an unwillingness to confront anti-Black racism at its root and to redress its manifestations. A Reparations Commission provides an opportunity for truth-telling and reparative justice. Black veterans and service members implore Governor Hochul to make it a reality by signing S1163A into law.”