Reparations in LA County

Systemic racism and discriminatory policies have disproportionately harmed people of color and marginalized communities in the U.S. and in Los Angeles County. The effects of these harms and injustices continue to be felt today, contributing to disparities in life course outcomes. With the adoption of the June 4, 2024 motion entitled “Continuing the Work of Reparations in Los Angeles County,” the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has taken steps to address the issue of reparations by acknowledging historical wrongdoings and further committing the County of Los Angeles (County) to being an anti-racist entity.

In June 2023, the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans (Reparations Task Force) released its final report (Report). With more than 115 recommendations, the Report provides valuable guidance for the County as it continues to do its part of this important work.

What are reparations?

Reparations refer to actions taken to address past harms and injustices inflicted on individuals and communities, particularly those affected by systemic racism, discrimination, and historical inequalities.

The Task Force’s final report make the case for reparations and provides justification for LA County to take action. Key findings specific to Los Angeles County, pulled from the Task Force’s interim and final reports, include:

  1. Demographic Concentration: African American Californians reside in all 58 counties, with the highest concentration in Los Angeles County (943,145), followed by San Bernardino County (223,116), San Diego County (211,354), Alameda County (198,250), and Riverside County (197,329).
  2. Historical Injustices: Cases involving freedom seekers from enslavement continued post-1855. Notably, the 1856 freedom case of Bridget “Biddy” Mason in Los Angeles County resulted in the emancipation of 19 enslaved individuals.
  3. Violence and Discrimination: On April 22, 1922, over 100 armed and hooded Klansmen raided a home in Inglewood. The KKK had deeply infiltrated state and local government, including law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County, with 3,000 Klan members countywide, over 1,000 within the city limits, and three on the District Attorney’s staff.
  4. Voter Suppression: Historical voter suppression practices persisted in California, including Los Angeles County, where African American Louis G. Green’s attempt to register to vote was blocked and upheld by the County Judge, who was related to the County Clerk.
  5. Failing Water Systems: A 2021 UCLA report identified 29 failing water systems in Los Angeles County, disproportionately affecting communities of color. The Sativa Los Angeles County Water District, which served historically African American neighborhoods, was dissolved for providing brown water for decades.
  6. Anti-Miscegenation Laws: California’s anti-miscegenation law, defended by Los Angeles County officials, was not struck down until 1948, and the legislature delayed its repeal for 11 more years under persistent racist influences.
  7. Sundown Towns: Historically, several towns in Los Angeles County, including Burbank, Culver City, Glendale, Hawthorne, Palos Verdes Estates, South Pasadena, and Tarzana, enforced sundown laws, perpetuating long-term segregation and discrimination.

The Board’s motion, sponsored by Supervisor Holly Mitchell, aims to address some of these historical and ongoing injustices, aligning with the California Reparations Task Force’s recommendations. The motion serves as an important step toward fostering a more equitable future for all in Los Angeles County.

Upcoming Efforts

Efforts are currently underway to transform the Report’s recommendations into real policy change in LA County. The following initiatives will be developed with robust community engagement and in consultation with affected communities:

LA County Reparations Outreach and Engagement

Per the June 2024 Board motion, ARDI will be launching and managing a Countywide outreach and engagement effort to continue the work of reparations in Los Angeles County. ARDI will include representatives with lived experience and consult with established or recognized experts in civil rights, racial justice, history, and other relevant fields to advance the following directives:

  • Recommending actions that each County department can take to provide reparations to County residents consistent with the State of California’s Reparations Task Force Report;
  • Developing proposed language for a Board resolution that acknowledges and apologizes to African Americans and their descendants on behalf of the County and the County’s role in structural racism, acts of violence, and other such harms and recommits the County to ending the ongoing harms resulting from these past actions; and
  • Studying best practices both domestically and internationally to provide reparations to establish a County framework for reparations that considers topics including housing, financial restitution, funding sources and sustainability, and targeted support for economic empowerment and wealth-building.

Additional Actions

  • ARDI will continue to collaborate with the County’s Center for Strategic Partnerships to identify and pursue philanthropic resources to support the County’s ongoing efforts to advance reparations.
  • In coordination with the County’s ongoing community engagement efforts, ARDI will continue to interface with residents and collect feedback and input, including through the upcoming launch of the County’s second edition of the State of Black Los Angeles County Report. 

Juneteenth 2024: An Initial Commitment

In celebration of Juneteenth 2024 and as a representation of the County’s commitment to the hard but necessary work of reparations, the County will provide free admission and access on or around June 19, 2024, to participating museums and beaches in Los Angeles County for eligible LA County residents who are lineal descendants of an African-American Chattel enslaved person (descendants of enslaved people who were abducted from their African homelands by force to be enslaved in North America) or of a free African-American person living in the United States prior to the end of the 19th Century (“Community of Eligibility Residents”).

Specifically, La Brea Tar Pits, Natural History Museum, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art will be offering free admission and the Department of Beaches and Harbors will provide free beach parking to the “Community of Eligibility Residents,” as defined above.

To receive free museum admission and beach parking on or around June 19, 2024, as described above, and be considered for eligibility in any future reparations or benefits under the County’s Reparations Initiative or any other applicable local or state program, please complete the Community of Eligibility Residents and County Reparations Interest Form below.

Community of Eligibility Resident
and County Reparations Interest Form

Self-Attestation Agreement(Required)
By checking this box, I attest under the penalty of perjury that I am a "Community of Eligibility Resident" and that the following is true and correct and to the best of my knowledge:

I am a Los Angeles County resident who is a lineal descendant of:
  • an African-American Chattel enslaved person (descendants of enslaved people who were abducted from their African homelands by force to be enslaved in North America); or
  • a free African-American person living in the United States prior to the end of the 19th Century.
Interest and Consent for Use and Release of Information(Required)
By clicking this box, I understand and consent to the following:

  • The County of Los Angeles, and any of its Departments, has permission to use the personal information provided on this form, including, my name, address, phone, and email address, to review my eligibility and interest and contact me for any current or future reparations or benefits under the County's Reparations Initiative, or any future State of California reparations program.
  • The County of Los Angeles, including its Departments, may disclose my personal information provided on this form to the State of California to review my eligibility and interest and contact me for any future State reparations program. Other than the State of California, the County will not disclose my personal information to any other third parties.
  • I understand that by submitting my Interest and Consent for Use and Release of Information herein, I am not guaranteed eligibility for any programs, services, or benefits under the County's Reparations Initiative or for any related local or state program.
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