Reparations activists rally in Newark ahead of Juneteenth
Newark, New Jersey - Reparations activists in New Jersey rallied outside Newark City Hall on Friday to demand the establishment of both a state and a federal reparations commission ahead of Juneteenth.
The Juneteenth March And Rally For Reparations, Justice and Democracy, co-sponsored by the New Jersey Institute For Social Justice (NJISJ), People's Organization For Progress, and dozens of other organizations, gathered advocates from across the state.
Protesters were there to demand the New Jersey State Legislature pass A938/S386, a bill that would establish a reparations task force to study and develop proposals to address the racial disparities born out of generations of enslavement and disenfranchisement.
Advocates say that despite its status as a Northern state, New Jersey still has some of the worst racial disparities in the nation stemming from the era of enslavement. According to NJISJ, New Jersey has the highest disparities in Black-to-white infant mortality rates and incarceration rates for adults and children. It's also the sixth most segregated state in the entire country for Black students. While white New Jerseyans' family median net wealth is the nation's highest at $352,000, Black families' averages just $6,100.
These disparities are vestiges of generations of racist policy, sanctioned by the federal, state, and local governments. That's why the Newark City Council passed a resolution in February in support of A938/S386.
If the legislation goes through, New Jersey would become only the second US state to create such a commission, after California.
Demands for reparations grow ahead of Juneteenth
The demand for a state-level task force also coincides with the push for a federal reparations study commission. Just one day before the Newark rally, advocates gathered on the White House lawn to install a Pan-African flower garden and call on President Biden to establish a national commission by executive order.
Additionally, Newark protesters urged the state legislature to establish a police review board with subpoena power, same-day voter registration, and the closure of youth prisons.
Anyone who wants to join the call for New Jersey to enact a reparations task force can sign a petition at 400YearsNJ.org.
Cover photo: Screenshot/Twitter/New Jersey Institute for Social Justice