Nebraska lawmaker introduces bill to create reparations task force for Black Americans

Lincoln, Nebraska - Could Nebraska be the next state to enact a reparations task force for Black Americans?

A bill has been introduced in the Nebraska state legislature to create a reparations task force for Black Americans.
A bill has been introduced in the Nebraska state legislature to create a reparations task force for Black Americans.  © IMAGO / Pond5 Images

State Senator Terrell McKinney of Omaha has introduced legislation, LB1044, to establish a body to study the legacy of enslavement and anti-Black policies in Nebraska and the United States, from the Transatlantic Slave Trade through the present day.

The group's mandate involves examining how the vestiges of chattel slavery, sharecropping, convict leasing, Jim Crow laws, redlining, unequal education, and mass incarceration are hurting Black Nebraskans today. The task force will then recommend a slate of remedies in accordance with international standards, putting the state on a path toward greater equality.

The bill stipulates that the task force would be financed using marijuana tax revenues.

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The seven voting members, not affiliated with any political party, would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by a majority of state legislators. The panel is to include:

  • Two members of the state's Commission on African American Affairs,
  • Three members from the third congressional district,
  • One member from the first congressional district, and
  • One member from the second congressional district.

The governor is expected to make those appointments by September 1, 2024, with the task force's first meeting to take place by October 1, 2024.

Reparations movement surges around the US

New York Governor Kathy Hochul signs legislation to create a state reparations commission on December 19, 2024.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul signs legislation to create a state reparations commission on December 19, 2024.  © MICHAEL M. SANTIAGO / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

If passed, Senator McKinney's legislation would make Nebraska the latest in a series of states, counties, and municipalities taking up the cause of reparations.

Illinois is pursuing the question of redress via its African Descent-Citizens Reparations Commission.

California made history in June as the state’s Reparations Task Force released its final report and recommendations, ranging from direct compensation to descendants of enslaved people to investments in education, housing, health care, and more.

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New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation in December to create a nine-member reparations commission in the Empire State, while racial justice advocates in the neighboring Garden State have convened their own expert-led New Jersey Reparations Council.

In Tennessee, state Senator Justin Jones has expressed his intent to introduce reparations legislation in 2024.

With each success, pressure mounts on President Joe Biden to enact a reparations commission by executive order ahead of the 2024 election.

Cover photo: IMAGO / Pond5 Images

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