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Governor Hochul, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Heastie Announce Appointments to New York State’s Commission to Study Reparations and Racial Justice.

Albany, New York —

Governor Kathy Hochul, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie today announced their appointments to the Community Commission on Reparations Remedies. The Commission, formed through legislation signed in December 2023, acknowledges the horrific injustice of slavery and is tasked with examining the legacy of slavery, subsequent discrimination against people of African descent, and the impact these forces continue to have in the present day.

“As Americans, we have a solemn responsibility to reckon with our history and that includes understanding the painful legacy of slavery in New York,” Governor Hochul said. “We have assembled an extraordinary group of highly-qualified individuals to serve on the new Commission, and will review their final recommendations.”

“Today’s announcement is an important step toward addressing the legacy of slavery and its impact on present day realities,” said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. “Through the work of this Commission, our state can lead in what should be a national conversation about the truth of our past, and the healing work required to create a more just future.”

Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “The formation of the Commission to Study Reparations and Racial Justice represents not only an acknowledgment of the past but also a commitment to rectifying long-standing injustices. I am honored to appoint Dr. Darrick Hamilton, renowned economist and scholar; Dr. Seanelle Hawkins, a leader in community advocacy and engagement; and Linda Tarrant-Reid, an accomplished historian and activist, as our appointees. Their diverse expertise and profound commitment to justice make them invaluable to our mission. This initiative is more than a historical examination; it is a bold stride towards a fairer and more equitable New York. I am confident in their ability to perform their duties exceptionally on behalf of New Yorkers.”

Speaker Carl Heastie said, “I am honored to appoint Dr. Ron Daniels, Lurie Daniel Favors and Rev. Dr. Deborah D. Jenkins to the New York State Community Commission on Reparations Remedies. I have full faith in them and their fellow members of the commission as they take on the responsibility of examining our state’s history of slavery and how its legacy continues to impact the lives of Black New Yorkers today. I look forward to their report as we remain committed to dismantling centuries of racial, economic and institutional injustices across our state.”

State Senator James Sanders Jr. said, “I applaud the Governor, President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the Assembly for selecting such impeccable people to sit on this historic panel. Special thanks should go the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Caucus; the Black Taskforce; the NAACP; the National Action Network; and innumerable activists who struggled for justice, not for recognition. As the son of a sharecropper and a domestic worker, I take pride in my small role in pursuing justice for the noble, yet much-maligned African American people. Let the commission arise and the words of Prophet Isaiah 1:17 ‘Learn to do right; seek justice, defend the oppressed.’ Now the real work begins. May the commissioners disagree without becoming disagreeable. May wisdom mark their deliberations and reason, fairness and justice come from their labors.”

Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages said, “With the recent appointments to the Commission to Study Reparations and Racial Justice, New York is steadfastly progressing on the path of healing and reconciliation. This commission has a unique mission, and all appointees possess areas of expertise that will contribute to the overarching goal of restitution and rehabilitation—core tenets of reparations. I take pride in sponsoring this legislation and am eager to continue advancing alongside the Governor, legislative leaders, and this newly formed body toward a stronger, more prosperous state.”

Jennifer Jones Austin is the CEO and Executive Director of FPWA, an anti-poverty policy and advocacy nonprofit with 170 member organizations; its work is centered on economic opportunity and upward mobility. She is a radio host, an author, and public speaker, and sits on the board of many organizations including the National Action Network, the Fordham University Feerick Center for Social Justice, the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Harvard University, and the NYC Board of Correction for which she is Chair. Ms. Jones Austin is the chairperson and a commissioner of the NYC Racial Justice Commission, the first commission of its kind in the nation tasked with targeting and dismantling structural and institutional racism across the city. Ms. Jones Austin is also a member of The African American Task Force for Vaccine Equity and Education, which is dedicated to helping overcome their inequitable barriers Black communities face during the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine; and she was a co-sponsor of the New York Police Department Reform and Reinvention Collaborative to end racialized policing and the criminalization of poverty. Ms. Jones Austin previously co-chaired the Mayoral Transition for Bill de Blasio and the NYC Procurement Policy Board. Ms. Jones Austin is an appointee selected by Governor Hochul.

Timothy R. Hogues serves as the Commissioner for the Department of Civil Service and President of the Civil Service Commission. He was nominated by Governor Kathy Hochul to serve in these roles in April 2022 and unanimously confirmed by the New York State Senate in June 2022. Prior to joining the Department of Civil Service, Commissioner Hogues served as the Personnel Commissioner for Erie County where he was responsible for overseeing services provided to over more than 130 appointing authorities and approximately 24,000 employees countywide through the implementation and maintenance of services that support and facilitate the recruiting, selection, hiring, development, and retention of local government and school district employees in accordance with Civil Service Laws and Regulations. Commissioner Hogues began this role after being appointed by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz in 2019. Commissioner Hogues is a proud graduate of University of Buffalo where he graduated with a B.A. in Business Administration and Management. Mr. Hogues is an appointee selected by Governor Hochul.

Linda Brown-Robinson is the Immediate Past President of the Syracuse Onondaga NAACP. A born and raised proud New Yorker and a native of Mt. Vernon, Linda’s activism first took hold upon relocating to upstate New York in 1968, where she joined a number of boards. She recalls that one of her first impactful boards was then known as the “Community Folk Art Gallery.” A former Board Member of FOCUS Greater Syracuse, and past member of the Executive Committee for the Onondaga County Democratic Committee, Ms. Brown-Robinson currently serves on the Democratic 5th Ward Committee. Ms. Brown-Robinson is a 2021 InterFaith Leadership Award recipient and was recently appointed as the NYS NAACP Western Region Director, where she oversees 11 Upstate NAACP Branches. Ms. Brown-Robinson is an appointee selected by Governor Hochul.

Darrick Hamilton, Ph.D. is a university professor, the Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy, and the founding director of the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School. Dr. Hamilton served as a member of the economic committee of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force and he was a surrogate and advisor for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. He has advised numerous other leading Members of Congress, as well as various 2020 presidential candidates. Dr. Hamilton holds a Ph.D from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a BA from Oberlin College. Dr. Hamilton is an appointee selected by Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins.

Linda Tarrant-Reid is an author, historian, freelance journalist, photographer and community activist. Although most of her career has been focused on literary pursuits, she is currently administrating grow! Eat, a project to grow fresh produce to distribute free-of-charge to the food insecure in Westchester County. The initiative is a program of The Lincoln Park Conservancy, of which Ms. Tarrant-Reid is the Executive Director. Ms. Tarrant-Reid Linda graduated from Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia with a BA in English. Ms. Tarrant-Reid is an appointee selected by Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins.

Seanelle Hawkins serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Urban League of Rochester, an affiliate of the National Urban League. Dr. Hawkins is an expert in community engagement and cultural change, advocacy, transitional and permanent supportive housing, fiscal stewardship, strategic planning, and staff development. Her nonprofit executive leadership includes over 20 years in various executive leadership roles for nonprofits and program consultancies in New York and Washington, DC. She also serves as an adjunct professor at St. John Fisher College in its doctoral program of Executive Leadership. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Dr. Hawkins received her bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University, master’s in strategic leadership at Roberts Wesleyan College, and her Doctorate of Education from the Executive Leadership Program at St. John Fisher College. Dr. Hawkins is an appointee selected by Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins.

Dr. Ron Daniels is Founder and President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW), a progressive, African centered, action-oriented Resource Center dedicated to empowering people of African descent and marginalized communities. As the administrator for the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC), IBW has emerged as a leading organization within the U.S. and global reparations movements. Dr. Daniels serves as the Convener of NAARC. Dr. Daniels holds a BA in History from Youngstown State University, an MA in Political Science from the Rockefeller School of Public Affairs in Albany, New York and a Doctor of Philosophy in Africana Studies from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati. Dr. Daniels is a Distinguished Lecturer Emeritus at York College, City University of New York where he taught courses in Political Science. Dr. Daniels is an appointee selected by Speaker Heastie.

Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq. is the Executive Director at the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College. She is an author, activist and attorney with a long-standing commitment to racial and social justice. Ms. Daniel Favors earned her JD from New York University, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern public interest scholar. Ms. Daniel Favors graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a BA in African and African American Studies, with a Minor in Spanish Language. She hosts the Lurie Daniel Favors Show on Sirius XM’s Urban View Network, a national, daily talk show that tackles issues of race, gender, culture, politics and the law. Ms. Daniel Favors is an appointee selected by Speaker Heastie.

Rev. Dr. Deborah D. Jenkins is Founding Pastor of Faith @Work Christian Church, Coop City, sustaining the ministry for almost 19 years with over 30 years of youth development experience which began as a Child Protective Services Caseworker, expanding to co-founding the Knowledge Development Center which provided quality afterschool services to Black and Latino males which included the New York Newsday Stock Market Game and other empowerment programming. Dr. Jenkins currently serves as NYPD Clergy Liaison in the 45th Precinct with a purpose to bridge the gap between community and law enforcement and works as an adjunct professor at John Jay College in the Public Administration Department. Dr. Jenkins earned her BA from Herbert H. Lehman College, her MA in Policy and Administration from Brooklyn College and her MDiv and DMin from New York Theological Seminary. Dr. Jenkins is an appointee selected by Speaker Heastie.

Legislation S.1163A/A.7691, passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Hochul in 2023 acknowledges the significant role the institution of slavery played in the establishment and history of New York. The legislation established the community commission on reparations remedies, composed of nine members who are especially qualified to serve by virtue of their expertise, education, training, or lived experience in the fields of African or American studies, the criminal legal system, human rights, civil rights, reparations organizations and other relevant fields.

Prior to the American Revolution, there were more enslaved Africans in New York City than in any other city except Charleston, South Carolina, and the population of enslaved Africans accounted for 20 percent of New York’s population, while 40 percent of colonial New York households owned enslaved Africans. This was an integral part of the development of the State of New York, and the consequences of the institution of slavery – and subsequently, discrimination and systemic racism borne of that institution – can still be observed today.

The commission is tasked with examining the legacy of slavery and its lingering negative effects on people currently living in the State of New York, with the goal of issuing a report comprised of recommendations for appropriate action to address these longstanding inequities. In the process of compiling recommendations, the commission will hold public hearings to solicit input from stakeholders. This written report of findings and recommendations must be submitted to the temporary president of the senate, the speaker of the assembly, the minority leaders of the senate and the assembly, and the Governor of the State of New York no later than one year after the date of the first meeting of the commission.

Source: Governor Kathy Hochul’s Office
Featured image: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul after she signed the bill in Albany, December 2023


“Reparations are the only way to make equality real for Black New Yorkers – and necessary for making a truly free New York for all.” New Yorkers for Reparations Issue Statements Celebrating the Launch of the New York State Reparations Commission.

New York, NY — New Yorkers for Reparations has assembled statements from a diverse group of public figures and advocacy organizations representing New Yorkers across the state, in support of today’s official launch of the historic New York State Reparations Commission and excitement for what the commission does in the coming months.

The commission is tasked with reckoning with the whole truth of the state’s history, and recommending how to repair the ongoing impacts and lingering effects of segregation, discrimination, and enslavement on Black communities. It will investigate and document these historical injustices and based on its findings, the commission will recommend policies that can address and remedy our history of harm.

New York is now the second state after California to launch such a body with the selected commissioners with the necessary expertise, experience, and values for giving New Yorkers a transformative roadmap for righting the wrongs of injustice in our state from its foundation. This comes after a successful campaign by advocacy groups to get the Democratic-controlled legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul to enact the commission into law shortly before the new year, 108 organizations signed a letter endorsing the commission and youth activists led demonstrations across New York City and sent hundreds of messages to Hochul’s office at the end of 2023. The need for swift action was further underscored by the fall release of a groundbreaking report by New York City Comptroller Brad Lander exposing the historic economic theft and intergenerational harm done to Black New Yorkers.

Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16)

“I am so excited to celebrate the announcement of the New York State Reparations Commission. The Reparations Commission is the first step towards forging a path that acknowledges America’s original sin and addresses centuries of discrimination, redlining, and institutionalized oppression. We must be honest with ourselves and tell the truth about our history and how it impacts our communities today, so that together we can build a better future. In this process, and in commissions across the country, we must ensure that these efforts remain community led. From Massena to Seneca Village, every zip code should be engaged in this path to reparations. Our collective healing must happen not just here in New York but across the country, so that we can truly root out the lasting impact of slavery. In Congress, we are working on transformative legislation to create a reparations commission, and we are grateful to the grassroots efforts like those here in New York for setting an inspiring example. I am incredibly proud as a Black man and a New Yorker that we are taking this step in the right direction to foster racial healing, and I look forward to continuing to fight for these policies at the federal level.”

New York State Senator James Sanders Jr.

“Today marks a monumental step towards healing and justice in New York. The launch of the Reparations Commission isn’t just about acknowledging the past, it’s about building a more equitable future for all. I believe this commission, with its diverse expertise and commitment to truth-seeking, has the power to craft transformative policies that address the systemic harms inflicted on Black communities for generations. This is just the beginning, and I stand ready to work alongside the commission and New Yorkers to ensure their recommendations become reality. Now is not the time for silence or inaction. This commission must reckon with the whole truth and deliver bold remedies. From economic disparities to wealth gaps, the legacy of slavery and discrimination still casts a long shadow. I look to the commission to address these harms, from education to healthcare to housing, and pave the way for a brighter future. For generations, Black New Yorkers have faced systemic injustices. The commission is a beacon of hope for healing and progress. Together, we can dismantle the walls of inequity and build a New York where opportunity thrives for all.”

Heather McGhee, board chair, Color of Change

“Reparations can be seed capital for New York’s prosperous future. The Governor needs to fully fund and support this new Commission so that it can engage New Yorkers across the state in better understanding how past state policies of enslavement and discrimination continue to drain wealth from New York’s communities.”

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander 

“When our office recently analyzed the data on racial wealth disparities, we found the median household net worth of white New Yorkers to be nearly 15 times that of Black New Yorkers. The average white New York high school graduate has net worth three times greater than the average Black college graduate. These numbers add up to opportunities denied to millions of Black New Yorkers, wealth disparities perpetuated across generations, and a poorer city and state for all of us since inequality holds back economic growth for all. The findings of the report clearly support the establishment of a commission to study these inequities and potential reparations, and this announcement represents an historic step towards improving the lives of everyone in New York.”

Dr. Ron Daniels, President, Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Convener of the National African American Reparations Commission:

“The establishment of the New York State Reparations Task force catapults New York into the center of the surging U.S. and global reparations movement. Following on ground-breaking work of the California Reparations Task Force, the New York Task Force has an opportunity to educate the people of this state and the nation that the harms, the injuries inflicted on people of African through enslavement and its legacies were not just “down south,” they also occurred “up south” where the wealth of the “empire” state was built of enslaved labor. Moreover, even after slavery was abolished, its harmful legacies persisted and persist right up until the present, hampering the full development of Black people in this state. New York has the opportunity and obligation of leading the nation in repairing these injuries through the enactment of comprehensive reparations.”

Stanley Mark, senior staff attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), who testified in support of Japanese American redress before the U.S. Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians in 1982

“The call for reparations is personal for Asian Americans who fought for and secured redress for Japanese Americans unjustly ripped from their homes and incarcerated by the U.S. government during WWII. Black people never received the proper redress they deserved after enduring the horrors of American slavery and the Jim Crow era that followed, and that neglect has profoundly contributed to the anti-Black animus and disparities that continue to hurt Black people today and undermine the humanity in all of us. Dismantling discrimination and racism begins with an acknowledgment of the full truth, a task the New York Reparations Commission must be fully empowered to complete.”

Nicole Carty, executive director of Get Free and resident of Brooklyn

“When Black people get free, we all get free. Our generation fully backs this reparations commission so they can provide us with a roadmap to making freedom and equality real in New York. Gen Z and Millennials across race and place demanded our elected leaders take urgent action on reparations because we know that the lies and laws created to dehumanize, exploit, and control Black people are a threat to dignity and freedom for all. While MAGA Republicans want to continue this legacy by whitewashing our history and stoking fears against our efforts to create a more equal future, we’re bringing New Yorkers together to reckon with the whole truth of our history and repair the ongoing impacts of white supremacist lies, laws, and violence from their foundation.

Trevor Smith, co-founder and executive director of BLIS Collective

“Today marks another pivotal moment in our march toward true justice and liberation for Black people, in New York, and across the nation. We are deeply encouraged about the expertise, experience, and commitment to reparations demonstrated by the appointed commissioners, and invite them to be in conversation with the coalition for the duration of the commission. Nationally, there exists a ‘hope gap’ on the topic of reparations within Black communities, where over 70 percent of Black people support reparations but less than 10 percent believe it is possible in their lifetime. The work of the commission has the potential to address this and profoundly reshape the narrative surrounding reparations both within New York and across the country. The BLIS Collective is inspired to support the work of New Yorkers for Reparations and the commission to ensure the eventual recommendations are turned into tangible and transformative policy and cultural changes.”

Erin Heaney, Executive Director of Showing Up for Racial Justice, the largest racial justice organization explicitly organizing white people in U.S. history and Buffalo resident

“Repairing the ongoing impacts of anti-Black discrimination on New Yorkers since enslavement is good for all of us. This is a historic opportunity for us to grapple with the legacy of slavery in our state, move beyond the divisive narratives that have been used to control our lives and pit us against one another, and build a state that makes good on the promise of freedom, equity and dignity for all of us.”

Lanessa Chaplin, Director of the New York Civil Liberties Racial Justice Center

“Today, New York state takes a historic step to reckon with the egregious and entrenched legacy of slavery in New York. The only way to build a fairer New York is to face our history and create a roadmap to repair the harm of our state’s legacy of white supremacy, which impacts Black New Yorkers to this day. Today, median household net worth for White New Yorkers is nearly 15 times greater than the median household net worth of Black New Yorkers. But repairing does not only require reconciling our past. We must also face our shared present and dismantle its racist structures and systems. By launching a formal reparations study commission, we are charting the course to address anti-Black discrimination and injustice and make equality a reality for all New Yorkers.”

Antar Keith, chair of the Democrats Abroad Reparations Task Force and NY-18 voter

“The Democrats Abroad Reparations Task Force applauds the announcement of the New York State Reparations Commission’s membership. We look forward to working with the commissioners to ensure the voices of New Yorkers both in state and abroad are heard as we build a better, safer New York for all. Past and present discriminatory policy not only harms Black New Yorkers at home, but also leaves lasting damage which remains even when we move abroad. No matter where we reside on Earth, Black New York voters and our allies will continue to push the Empire State to become a beacon of reparative justice. The world is watching as we embark on this historic journey together.”

Enith Williams, founder and executive director of the Reparations Finance Lab

“It is fitting that New York State has taken this historic step in the long march toward justice, truth, and reparations for the legacy of enslavement, anti-Black racism, and continuing economic harm when we consider the role of its financial sector in enabling and enriching those institutions and individuals that profited from that history. Wall Street was not only one of the largest slave markets in the North it was also where the profits of enslavement flowed from the South and where much of the contemporary harms of wealth extraction and exclusion has been centered through practices such as Redlining and the subprime mortgage crisis. This is a long overdue reckoning and we welcome the establishment of the commission.”

Richard Brookshire, CEO and co-founder of the Black Veterans Project

“The New York State Reparations Commission has a historic opportunity to lay bear the unfiltered truth of how anti-Black racism has shaped the institutions and economy of our state. From enslavement to institutional discrimination reverberating across generations, we have a collective mandate as New Yorkers to secure the historical record at a time of right-wing erasure and provide impactful policy remedies that can place us all on a path of true equity and equal opportunity. New York’s role in obstructing access to the GI Bill following World War II and continued disinvestment in the communities Black veterans call home must be reckoned with. Black Veterans Project looks forward to supporting the Commission’s work and advancing the inter-generational struggle for a true reckoning.”

Emily Akpan, reparations co-chair at Tsuru for Solidarity, co-chair of New York Day of Remembrance Committee:

“As Japanese Americans, we know that reparations are possible. During World War II, the U.S. federal government forcibly removed and incarcerated our families and ancestors, and in 1988, after years of advocacy, Japanese Americans won reparations for this injustice. Our community has not stopped at this victory. We know that until our governments have fully repaired the violence and harm it has done to communities, particularly Black and Indigenous communities, none of us are truly free. We hope that the Commission will lead to real material changes and reparative justice in the lives of Black Americans, not just in New York, but across the country.”

David Wheaton, Economic Justice Policy Fellow, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. (LDF)

“Today marks an important step in the fight for racial justice in New York. The New York State Reparations Commission has the opportunity to study and redress the horrific past of slavery and racist laws that have negatively impacted Black New Yorkers for generations. In employment, housing, education, and the criminal justice system, Black New Yorkers currently face disproportionate challenges that stem from institutional and structural racism rooted in chattel slavery and discriminatory government policies. We are hopeful that the Commission will work diligently to help pave the way for reparative justice to Black New Yorkers.”