A person clenching his fist in solidarity
People show up at a rally to support reparations for Black people on Tuesday. Photo by Junyao Yang.

San Francisco’s task force on Black reparations presented its final recommendations this afternoon on how the city can alleviate the harms of anti-Black racism, including the possibility of $5 million payments made to Black residents harmed by the city government.

While the supervisors were broadly receptive of the reparations plan, Mayor London Breed presents an obstacle: The city’s first Black female mayor has stated that she is against cash payments at the city level, and has not agreed to fund a future reparations office.

The mayor is not bound to spend money allocated by the supervisors. And the city is staring down painful budget cuts next year, which are likely to forestall any grand spending on reparations.

Still, District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, a strong supporter of reparations and the only Black supervisor, introduced a resolution on Tuesday to accept the final reparations plan, which would cost tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars in additional spending, if fully implemented. The resolution will be voted on as early as next week.

Supervisor Shamann Walton addresses the public at the reparations rally on Tuesday.
Supervisor Shamann Walton addresses the public at the reparations rally on Tuesday. Photo by Junyao Yang.

“This is a distinct moment, and this can not be overstated,” said Tinisch Hollins, vice chair of the African American Reparations Advisory Committee. “So to speak, we have all the receipts, and truthfully, you do, too.”

The recommendations presented Tuesday centered around three overarching proposals: San Francisco should issue a formal apology to Black residents, establish an independent reparations office and launch a committee to oversee reparations policy. 

That reparations office would be responsible for implementing specific policy fixes, of which there are more than 150 in the 400-page final plan created by the committee.

Those specific recommendations range widely: Lump sums of $5 million to Black residents who have suffered specific harms at the hands of city government, forgiveness of student loans for Black public-school students, the creation of new rental and homeownership opportunities for Black residents, and dozens of other proposals.

The reparations committee was created by the Board of Supervisors in December 2020 to address harms inflicted by the San Francisco government against Black residents, and has been meeting since May 2021 to draft its plan.

‘We are celebrating today’

Tuesday’s session saw a rally on the steps of City Hall, led by committee members and Walton who, in 2020, introduced the ordinance establishing the committee.

Three Black women singing at a rally
People sing the Black National Anthem at a rally to support reparations for Black people on Tuesday. Photo by Junyao Yang.

“We did the job, y’all. Our 150 recommendations on how this city can get started,” said Hollins. “We are celebrating today, and we are holding the city accountable.” 

Parris Lane stood in the crowd with a handmade umbrella covered by a collage of old photos and newspapers, showing scenes of Black suffering. 

“I feel sort of relieved that we are duly acknowledging our ancestors,” she said. 

a woman holding a hand-made umbrella with SF city hall in the back
Parris Lane holds a handmade umbrella at the reparations rally on Tuesday. Photo by Junyao Yang.

Derek Wilson, 74, has been living in San Francisco for almost 50 years. “They owe us, for what has been accomplished by African Americans in history,” he said.  

After the rally, throngs packed the Board of Supervisors chamber to hear the committee’s final recommendations. Speakers in line for public comment, which lasted three hours, wrapped around the room. 

Walton addressed the public at the start of the meeting. 

“In order to achieve reparations, we will need our Latino allies, our Asian allies, our LGBTQ allies, our Jewish allies, our white allies — the entire San Francisco to make this happen,” Walton said.

People stand in line for public comment at San Francisco City Hall.
People stand in line for public comment on SF Reparations Plan at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday. Photo by Junyao Yang.

The reparations committee spent the next 25 minutes outlining key recommendations from its report. 

The presentation included a brief history lesson outlining suffering faced by Black San Franciscans, like the mid-20th century razing of vast swaths of the Fillmore District, which caused the displacement of nearly 20,000 people.

“There were atrocities before this and, sadly, many more have happened since,” said Eric McDonnell, chair of the reparations committee. 

“You saw your Black neighbors and black businesses in your districts. Friends, people you grow up with, displaced. You continue to see the harm perpetuating as you work in your current seats,” Hollins said at the end of the presentation. “We see you every day, doing your best. But this is the moment we are calling on you to do more than your best.”

‘The paralysis of an analysis’

Public comment kicked off with a speech from The Rev. Amos Brown, a pastor at San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church. 

“Black folks were looked at, but our humanities were never seen,” Brown said to the board. “Our house is on fire. We don’t need a paralysis of an analysis. Just do it.”

Rev. Amos Brown in front of a podium at city hall
Rev. Amos Brown addresses the public at the rally. Photo by Junyao Yang.

In public comment, people shared experiences of family properties taken, displacement, and loss of loved ones. People said they were born and raised in San Francisco but couldn’t afford to own a home here. A speaker said her grandparents’ house was taken away.  

A number of teachers showed up to call for investments in education for the Black community. A number of recommendations revolve around education, including the creation of a Historically Black College or University in San Francisco and the creation of an “Afrocentric” K-12 school.

“The city has too much money to have this kind of disparity in education,” Suzanne Kelly said. “Something should be done about it, and should be done now.” 

One speaker, who said she was a “white woman named Karen,” said she, too, supports the reparations plan. “Our ancestors created systematic racism that we benefit from today. We need to repair the harm we have caused.”

Though the Board did not vote on Tuesday, supervisors seemed supportive in moving forward with the plan. 

“If we don’t right the wrongs for Black people, done to Black people in this country, we are never gonna heal as a nation, no matter what race you are,” said District 2 Supervisor Catherine Stefani after public comment. “I want you to come back when we are taking the votes.”

“I want to reiterate: This is not a cry for help, but a demand on repair and creating equity,” said Walton. 

  • a dog next to a tote bag reading "reparations now"
  • a yellow umbrella reading "reparations"
  • A woman with a sign reading "Asian Americans For Black Reparations"
  • Three people holding a sign reading "showing up for racial justice"

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Junyao Yang is a data reporter for Mission Local through the California Local News Fellowship. Junyao is passionate about creating visuals that tell stories in creative ways. She received her Master’s degree from UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Sometimes she tries too hard to get attention from cute dogs.

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  1. This is absolutely ridiculous! This will never be enforced. The mayor is right. The citizens of SF will not allow more of their hard earned money to simply go to one race of people. I predict a massive exodus from this once great city if something like this is passed and implemented. That sounds like discrimination and will be viewed as unconstitutional and will be tied up in the courts. Not to mention SF is about 300 million in the hole right now with no end in sight. Money will not solve people’s problems. Almost 70% of the crime in SF is committed by black people in SF. How about solving the issues in those black families before we start handing out money we don’t have?

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  2. Nobody is in favor of this other than the people getting money. What about all of the other minority groups? It needs to be put on the ballot for the voters to decide.

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    1. And that voter proposition should be fully costed out. $5 million each for (let’s say) 50,000 people comes to a quarter of a trillion dollars.

      That is over $300,000 for every non-black man, woman and child in the city. Who would vote for that, other than the 50,000 recipients of course?

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  3. When asked how the 5 million was decided the committee said “in truth we just picked it… we thought it was a good place to start negotiating”. All this research they supposedly did and other committees research to help and they just pick a number??? Is this about reparations or just screwing the white people like the first 40 acres. When the USA was so empty and they could’ve picked any land they wanted… they pick land that someone else has claim too, and blame everyone but themselves when it goes to doodoo because they were being vengeful instead of looking after their families. Again they do it by asking for all the public housing to be turned into condominiums for only the blacks to live in and purchase for 1$. And there never was a mule so thats more hate and greed that has been pushed for centuries.
    Before anyone jumps on this train i encourage you all to look into the many many foundations and non profits that have heaps of city money already for grants and other freebies like paying for school tuition and even living expenses. The catch is: you have to be black to qualify. I know this because i know someone who is on the oversight board and told me that after getting a grant if they see that even a penny has gone to help someone non black that person is barred from applying for anymore grants. I won’t name the 501c3’s involved in this discrimination it’s easy to follow the money from breed to them. Let me close with this question… if a non profit gave grants to only white people would that be ok??? Does inclusion mean everyone??? And yes i believe black people suffer still today, just not so much in San Francisco which never had slaves. All people living below the level of poverty and in the margins suffer and are treated poorly.

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  4. Governor Newsom had mentioned he supports reparations for slavery, but he mentioned no to direct cash payments. Also, from NPR and Yahoo News, most California voters oppose cash reparations for slavery, poll finds. If our SF BOS supports this, they are supporting political suicide.

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  5. $5,000,000 each is a nice round number and seems reasonable to be. Well thought out. But one question: I keep hearing blacks are going to cash in on the white man but it’s only for true descendants. How does that get fully researched and documented?

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  6. I support justice and equality for all. I admit favoring help for the lowest economic quartile first and then everybody else. I believe that’s what liberals, such as the people of San Francisco, have been working on since the Civil Rights movement: civil rights, voting rights, fair housing, affirmative action, education grants, internships, subsidized housing, through to today’s unprecedented assistance for the unhoused, and other well-intentioned programs. Despite the sentiments of the majority, liberal places have a history of supporting meanness: mandating the closure of businesses and institutions before thoroughly testing for Covid, allowing gangs to rob businesses large and small, prohibiting aggressive panhandling, restricting use of electronic amplification in public, requiring permits for vending on sidewalks and streets, closing public mental health clinics in San Francisco and all of California, displacing residents in a black-majority neighborhood and raising or removing that housing, displacing residents in a Filipino-majority block and raising that housing, building major roadways through the city and separating traditional neighborhoods, displacing businesses around the base of Market Street and raising the buildings, forcibly relocating Japanese surname families in San Francisco and throughout the US and allowing others to appropriate their properties, prohibiting Chinese from owning property and businesses without having caucasian majority partners, allowing homeowners associations from prohibiting Jewish and other groups to be residents in their by-laws, pre-SF when John C Fremont routed landholders from Mexico and Spain who, in their turn, had dispossessed their predecessors the Ohlone, etc. Despite the good intentions of the majority of compassionate people an entire range of bad things have been perpetrated against San Franciscans of different races ethnicities and religions throughout its history. I hope we can still work together to make San Francisco a more equitable and peaceable place for all.

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  7. Very full coverage, thank you. Astounding that the supervisor consensus appears to be in support – even Stefani! And predictable that the mayor is opposed. Thanks to Walton for helping to focus this powerful movement towards legislation. Wish he was mayor.

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  8. As a black man in sf, i applaud the effort of all who participate in the demand for reparation, which is long over due. I am now wondering how this rally, and future rallies can or will ecourage others to get on board to support and be educated on this and other issues that concern? Strong leadership and numbers! when we ever get a seat at the table, only then can we eat!

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