As the country continues to confront a history of racial injustice, deeply rooted in the legacy of slavery and systemic racism, Gov. Gavin Newsom has appointed five individuals to serve on the newly formed Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans.
Amos Brown, Cheryl Grills, Liza Holder, Jovan Lewis and Donald Tamaki are the first selections for the eventual nine-member task force to inform Californians about slavery and explore ways the state might provide reparations.
“California is leading the nation, in a bipartisan way, on the issue of reparations and racial justice, which is a discussion that is long overdue and deserves our utmost attention,” Newsom said. “[The] appointment of [these] individuals with an expansive breadth of knowledge, experiences and understanding of issues impacting the African American community is the next step in our commitment as a state to build a California for all.”
The initial five selected individuals, the Governor’s office said, represent diverse backgrounds and meet the statutes required by law, which include choosing one candidate from the field of academia with expertise in civil rights and an additional two appointees selected from major civil society and reparations organizations that have historically championed the cause of reparatory justice.
The state Legislature will select the remaining four appointees.
Dr. Brown, Th.D, 80, of San Francisco, is a renowned civil rights leader who studied under Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He and King were both arrested at a lunch counter sit-in in 1961, and Brown also joined the Freedom Riders who protested segregation in the South. Brown is president of the San Francisco Branch and a member of the Board of Directors of the NAACP.
Dr. Grills, Ph.D, 62, of Inglewood, is a psychology professor at Loyola Marymount University and has been the director of Psychology of the Applied Research Center there since 1987. In addition to her community-based research, Grill’s work has focused on racial stress and trauma, implicit bias and community healing focused on the needs of people of African ancestry.
Holder, 49, of Los Angeles, is a nationally recognized, award-winning trial attorney who has dedicated her career to to racial and social justice and systems change. She has been counsel at the Equal Justice Society since 2016 and Principal Attorney at the Law Office of Lisa Holder since 2010. Holder was also a lecturer in Law and Adjunct Professor at UCLA School of Law from 2017 to 2019.
Dr. Lewis, 38, Ph.D, of Berkeley, is an associate professor and the incoming chair of the Department of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 2015. His current work focuses on the history and contemporary circumstances of the historic Black community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the consequences of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre.
Tamaki, 69, of Piedmont, is known for his historic work serving on the pro bono legal team that reopened the landmark Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. United States, overturning Fred Korematsu’s conviction for refusing incarceration during the mass roundup and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and providing a key legal foundation in the decades long Japanese American Redress Movement.
The task force will select its own chair and vice chair and their work will be staffed by the Attorney General’s Office. Members will meet over the next year and conclude their work with a written report on their findings, along with recommendations which will be provided to the Legislature.