After two years of historic work, a state task force on reparations delivered its final report on Thursday, setting the stage for legislators to draw up laws based on its recommendations for making restitution to Black state residents for the long-term effects of slavery.

Those recommendations are contained in more than 100 proposals laid out by the California Task Force to Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, including monetary compensation, a formal public apology from the state, and replacing what it called racist policies.

Task force member Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, noted during Thursday’s meeting that the implementation of reparations won’t be done with one bill or in one legislative cycle.

“This is going to be the start of another lengthy process,” he said. “Reparations is not a gift, not a handout, not charity. It is what is promised, what is owed and what is long overdue … it’s past due time to repay African American people.”

He noted that reparations have been discussed since slavery’s abolition, with the federal government’s promise of 40 acres and a mule to each freed Black person going unfulfilled.

“When slavery ended in 1863, there was a promise of land that was never paid,” Bradford said. “If you can inherit generational wealth, you can inherit generational debt, and this is a debt that is owed.”

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who has led the push for reparations at a county level, cheered the state task force’s report.

“I’m feeling very appreciative and joyful,” Miley said in an interview. “I don’t know how far the legislature will take it, but whatever comes out of this is a positive. I know some of the recommendations, especially the monetary ones, could be incredibly costly to the state. But I don’t think there’s a downside to any of it. It’s all progress.”

Although the state legislature will have to ultimately determine the amount of monetary reparations to be paid and how to distribute them, economists who reported to the task force previously had estimated that Black residents could be owed more than $800 billion collectively. The task force decided last year that only those residents who are direct descendants of slaves should be eligible for reparations.

The 1,000-page report suggests how to calculate cash reparations to address health disparities, incarceration, over-policing, housing discrimination, devaluation of Black-owned businesses, unjust property takings by eminent domain and labor discrimination.

“The cost of reparations will be high,” Bradford said, “But make no mistake, the harms that were done are just as high, and the disparities it’s created continues to this day.”

If California puts half a percent, or $1.5 billion, of its $300 billion annual budget into annuity each year, “we can pay for it,” Bradford said. The state finds money to do other things, he added, “so this is our priority.”

The task force began its work in 2021, studying the political, economic, environmental and educational harms that slavery had on Black Californians and the descendants of slaves. It issued its first report last year; with recommendations such as paying incarcerated people market wages and creating a state African American Affairs agency, which it built off of for the final proposals.

The new report also discusses how a survey on the California Racial Justice Act could help root out and address bias in the criminal justice system, suggests a standard curriculum centered on the task force’s findings and recommendations, and details historic atrocities that the state, under the panel’s recommendations, would apologize for — such as demolishing thriving African American neighborhoods in the name of urban renewal and park construction — and promise not to repeat.

For example, the report cited 1960s San Francisco where, operating under a state law for urban redevelopment, officials ordered the destruction of the Fillmore District — then the city’s most prominent African American neighborhood and business district. The move wiped out nearly 900 businesses, displaced nearly 5,000 households and damaged the lives of nearly 20,000 people before leaving the land empty for many years.

Before Thursday’s final hearing, historian and author Alison Rose Jefferson, who has studied how governments have historically seized Black property and testified at a 2021 task force meeting, said that the report’s being turned into any laws that could benefit Black people will be “incremental … it would take lifetimes for the playing field to be leveled to white counterparts.”

Although California entered the Union in 1850 as a free state, its early state government supported slavery, the report stated. In 1852, officials passed a fugitive slave law that put Black people living in California at risk of being deported to slave-holding states in the south. Some scholars estimated up to 1,500 enslaved African Americans lived in the state that year.

Rosie Brady, secretary for the NAACP’s 1034 branch in Riverside, said before the hearing that she hopes for sanctity and honesty when it comes to reparations policies. She said she is “hopeful” that reparations will allow Black people to “get ahead a little in life” and be able to do things that have been simple for White people, such as helping their children through college.

“When Black people were freed, they weren’t given anything,” Brady said. “Still, we’re at the lowest of the totem pole.”

Will McCarthy contributed to this story.