Toks Omishakin, appointed as Transport Secretary, rises to Cabinet level
By Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media
Reverend Amos C. Brown serves as vice chair and lead member of the nine-member California task force to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans.
Brown, 80, says he is “extremely satisfied” with what the committee has accomplished after four meetings.
The working group held its fifth and final two-day meeting session in 2021 on December 7-8. As outlined in Assembly Bill (AB) 3121, the group has until 2023 to present a set of recommendations to the state for consideration. .
“The task force has been extremely focused and substantial. We have some of the best minds – people who know the history, the psychology and the sociology of the pressure that black people in this country have felt,” Brown told California Black Media.
The task force was created after Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 3121 into law in September 2020. California Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber drafted the bill while serving in the California Assembly. State representing the 79th district of San Diego.
The law calls for the state to establish a task force to study slavery, Jim Crow segregation and other injustices that African Americans have faced historically in California and across the United States.
The group will then recommend appropriate ways to educate Californians about reparations and propose ways to compensate descendants of slaves based on the task force’s findings.
The members of the working group come from a variety of professional backgrounds. So far, the panel has heard testimony from a range of experts and witnesses, including descendants and representatives of individuals or families who have been denied justice by the government in the past; as well as historians, economists and academics.
“We’re about balancing, including, and stating the case with precision so that it doesn’t face analysis paralysis or become just another study,” Brown said. “We’ve had too many black studies in the past. Now is the time to show us that we are serious about being ‘one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,’” Brown said, referring to the American Pledge of Allegiance.
According to Brown, African Americans in his hometown of San Francisco must overcome decades of psychological damage imposed by racism, discrimination and unjust government policies, including some urban renewal programs that hurt black families more than they don’t help them.
On November 22, Brown joined actor Danny Glover, other local black leaders and members of the San Francisco Reparations Committee in calling on the city to donate the historic Fillmore Heritage Center to the African-American community. American.
Many referred to the Fillmore neighborhood as the “Harlem of the West” in the 1940s, Brown said. In 1945, more than 30,000 black Americans lived in the historic district.
Today, about 6% of San Francisco’s population of nearly 875,000 people are black or mixed-race African Americans.
“The leaders of the city of San Francisco have a moral obligation to right the racist wrongs that have destroyed this culture and this community and to allow the Fillmore Heritage Center to live up to the full meaning of its name.” Glover said in a statement.
In 2007, the center became a jazz and blues venue, reminiscent of the Fillmore culture and nightclubs that attracted music greats like Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday and others.
Last May, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to appoint a 15-member African-American Reparations Advisory Committee.
“This building, this land, represents disenfranchisement, black redlining in this city, and the redevelopment agency is not fair,” Brown said. “The Fillmore, 12 blocks, was itself the center of black entertainment, black culture, black business and black life. You simply cannot erase our history or our heritage.
Born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1941, Brown says he was delivering JET magazine when the popular weekly published graphic photos of 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was murdered by a racist mob in August 1955 in Money, Mississippi, an area rural area known for growing cotton. Till’s lynching ignited the civil rights movement.
“Emmett and I were the same age,” Brown said. “When I picked up a copy (of Jet magazine), I saw this mutilated head. It horrified me. I remember it very well.”
At age 15, Brown started the first National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) youth council. In 1956, Medgar Evers, a Mississippi State official for the NAACP, brought the then 15-year-old Brown to San Francisco to attend the NAACP National Convention where he first met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Brown then studied with King at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
In 1961, he was arrested along with King during a lunch counter sit-in and joined the Freedom Riders, a group of activists protesting segregation in the South.
“In 1960, before I joined the Freedom Riders, the NAACP Youth Council actually organized the first ‘Occupy Demonstration’ in Oklahoma City in August 1958,” Brown said. “The first sit-down movement didn’t start in Greensboro, North Carolina. It started in Oklahoma City, Wichita (Kansas) and Louisville (Kentucky) under the auspices of the NAACP Youth Council.
Brown received a Doctor of Divinity from United Theological Seminary in Ohio and a Master of Divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania.
Brown has served as the pastor of Third Baptist Church of San Francisco since 1976. From 1996 to 2001, he served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He is president of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP and a member of the organization’s national board of directors.
Brown said he’s been monitoring reparations legislation and conversations across the country to see if the proposals put forward align with California’s efforts.
“What I want to accomplish is for black people to be and know that something has been done for their pain — it can be done in the state of California,” Brown said. “Things can never be perfect, but at least, collectively, people of good will and awareness can stand up and say, ‘Here’s what we need to do to right this wrong.’