On Monday, June 19, the People’s Organization for Progress (POP) will hold a march and rally in Newark, New Jersey, to call on the state’s lawmakers to pass bills and begin the process of reparations for descendants of slavery.
The event will host representatives from POP, the New Jersey Institute For Social Justice, elected officials, and community members. This annual march and rally’s primary goal is to secure reparations for African Americans who are descendants of formerly enslaved people.
“The demonstration is being held to once again demand reparations for African Americans for the centuries of enslavement of our ancestors, nearly a century of apartheid Jim Crow segregation, and institutionalized racism, inequality, oppression, and exploitation that continues to this day,” Lawrence Hamm, POP chair stated.
Hamm said the current goal is to pass bills S386 and A938 in the New Jersey legislature, both of which would establish a “New Jersey Reparations Task Force” to examine the role of slavery in the state and its ancillary effects on current education, labor, and housing systems.
While lawmakers and activists have argued reparation bills for consideration throughout history, recently, New York and California have established coalitions to address the residual effects of slavery, according to an article for the Associated Press.
New York still awaits the signature of Gov. Kathy Hochul, who can sign the bill into law and fully establish the task force. In California, economists have estimated that over $500 billion is owed to slavery descendants, but they did not specify amounts due to individuals or a timeline of said payments.
Hamm said that whether reparations be lump-sum payments, annuities, or the provision of economic resources, reparations will likely take many different forms for African Americans. He also mentioned legal precedent for reparations citing the payments towards Native Americans for colonialism and genocide as well as the payments for the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Hamm says the march and rally will commemorate Juneteenth, which was federally recognized in 2021 but was first celebrated 158 years ago, in 1865. He encouraged New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy to sign the two bills into action, and he hopes Congress can pass HR 40 and S40, which would mandate that lawmakers examine the lingering effects of slavery on the federal level.
“We urge the New Jersey legislature to follow the example of the New York legislature which passed a reparations bill last week. We demand the New Jersey legislature pass the reparations bill and that Gov. Murphy sign it into law,” Hamm said.