During a campaign interview with hip-hop legend Luther Luke Campbell and others, Florida gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried said she would support reparations legislation like the bill recently adopted in California if she is elected governor.
Stephen Johnson, 100 Black Men of South Florida Past Chair and member of the Miami-Dade Black Affairs Advisory Board, told Fried that he could not find her position on reparations in any of her campaign materials. Johnson then asked if signing a reparations task force legislation would be something she would do if she became governor of Florida.
Fried responded, “Yes, of course it would be. I think these are hard conversations to have but we have to have them.”
Fried then went on to discuss the Groveland Four, who were four young African-American men falsely accused of raping a 17-year-old girl and assaulting her husband on July 16, 1949, in Lake County, Florida. Fried was a member of the Florida Cabinet who joined in issuing posthumous pardons of the four men on Jan. 11, 2019.
— Stephen Hunter Johnson (@stephenhjohnson) July 20, 2022
The California reparations bill came about after the death of George Floyd and the subsequent nationwide protests.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation in 2020 which established a task force to study and develop a plan for reparations in the state. The law gave “special consideration” to black Americans who are direct descendants to enslaved people.
Earlier this year, the California’s reparations task force released its first of two reports detailing the state’s history of slavery and racism, and recommending ways the legislature might begin a process of redress for black Californians.
At nearly 500 pages, the report lays out the history of how black Americans were disadvantaged by the government – from slavery to segregation to discrimination in housing and employment to inequities in the justice system.
The task force report proposes dozens of recommendations, including that the legislature “implement a comprehensive reparations scheme.” The final details – including the exact monetary amount of compensation and the number of black Californians eligible – will be in a second report due to the legislature by July 2023.
The report proposes the creation of the Office of Freedmen Education and Social Services, which would offer free tuition for black students in private K-12 education and those pursuing higher education in the state. It would also ensure that school curricula reflect a more “expansive discussion of the experiences of Black Americans in a way that is accurate and honest,” the report said.
The task force also proposed raising the minimum wage, requiring health benefits and paid time off, and other workplace protections for workers in agriculture, hospitality, food, and domestic industries where there were large numbers of black workers but fewer worker protections, the report said.
Black Californians seeking reparations would be able to file a claim through the Reparations Tribunal/Redress Administration, the proposed arm of the reparations process that would accept or deny a request.
“What we’re asking for is fair, it’s just and it is right, and a nation that does not know how to admit this wrong and act in ways that are practical to show fruits of repentance is on the way to losing its soul,” said task force Vice Chair Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP, in an interview with NPR.
Recent polls indicate that Fried trails opponent U.S Rep. Charlie Crist in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor. The primary election is August 23rd.
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Steve Stewart is a senior contributor at The Florida Capital Star.
Photo “Nikki Fried” by Nikki Fried.