A senior member of both the California and San Francisco reparation taskforces was slammed and accused of ‘lining up his retirement fund’ after he failed to attend a key meeting because he is in Ghana alongside Vice President Kamala Harris.
Rev. Amos Brown Zoomed into Wednesday’s meeting in Sacramento in which he complained that the reports that $5 million would be given to black residents in the Bay Area were part of a ‘smear campaign.’
Brown, 82, said that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, of which he is a member, gave ‘lip service’ to reparations and noted that the city is facing a massive deficit.
The reverend’s absence came on the same day that it emerged that the bill for California’s reparations bill has skyrocketed to at least $800 billion.
During her historic visit to Africa, Harris promised billions of investment to the continent as she toured historic sites associated with slavery.
Rev. Amos Brown shown Zooming into the meeting where he explained that he was part of Vice President Kamala Harris’ delegation to Ghana
Rev. Brown, the leader of San Francisco’s NAACP chapter, pictured with Vice President Harris in 2008
Much of Vice President Harris’ remarks there focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, part of her effort to spotlight Africa as a place for American private-sector investment.
In a phone comment section that began the meeting, one angry caller accused Brown of soliciting donations in his role with the NAACP in order to line up ‘his retirement fund.’
The caller cited a recent $50 million donation the group received from Wells Fargo in criticizing Brown.
‘Dr. Brown, shame on you… absolutely shame on you. You give us these fiery speeches only to turn around as Judas did Jesus and betray us…. Him being in Ghana with Kamala Harris, whose administration has done nothing to help black folks is a symbolic gesture,’ another caller said.
A speaker named Vader called out Rev. Amos for not appearing at Wednesday’s meeting
Vader then confronted a group off camera who had been heckling him
During the in person speaking portion, one California resident, identified only as Vader, said: ‘This panel is not even going to call out their own member who didn’t show up and we know why he didn’t show up cause he didn’t want to get shouted down, right?’
He went on to say: ‘The governor is failing us. The governor appointed this panel and this panel is failing us.’
‘[Brown] is supposed to represent black Americans, is he representing black Americans? He’s in Ghana right now when he’s supposed to be here. What is that?… It’s fake up in here.’
The speaker was heckled by another group. He turned to them and said: ‘I’m calling you an enemy of the people to your face.’ This was followed by undeterminable yelling.
While another public speaker said: ‘We just gave Zelenskyy $100 billion, he’s not black, he’s not even American.’
Amos earlier this month made an about-face on plans to pay $5million in reparations to every black resident of San Francisco, saying he now believes the cash should go to community projects instead.
The reason for his reversed position is unclear.
Rev. Amos Brown (speaking at a reparations rally outside San Francisco City Hall on March 14) serves on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors which is considering recommendations from the city’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee to make amends for slavery
Task force Chair Kamilah Moore has stated she plans to be as ‘radical as possible’ when it comes to deciding who will receive reparations and how much
California State Senator Steven Bradford (left) and Dr. Cheryl Grills (right) also appear on the taskforce
Task force members Lisa Holder (left) and Donald K. Tamaki (right)
Task force members Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe (left) and Jovan Scott Lewis (right)
Reginald Jones Sawyer (left) and Reparations Task Force Vice Chair Dr. Amos C. Brown
Speaking on behalf of the San Francisco NAACP, Brown called for the city to redirect its focus on education, jobs, housing, healthcare and a cultural center for black people.
In a statement, Brown said: ‘We strongly believe that creating and funding programs that can improve the lives of those who have been impacted by racism and discrimination is the best path forward towards equality and justice.’
It comes after a public meeting of San Fran’s Board of Supervisors on March 14 to allow people to air their views on a plan to provide reparations to black residents.
The NAACP directly responded to the discussion, saying that the investment needed to be in education, healthcare and economic empowerment – both of which are in line with the California taskforce and the AARAC suggestions.
Brown said: ‘Black students don’t perform as well as their peers. We need remedial programs to help our children with reading, math, and science.
‘The school district and the city have a moral obligation to raise up all children and especially those whose families have been disadvantaged by discrimination.
The new $800 billion estimate is more than 2.5 times California’s $300 billion annual budget, and does not include a recommended $1 million per older Black resident for health disparities that have shortened their average life span.
Nor does the figure count compensating people for property unjustly taken by the government or devaluing Black businesses, two other harms the task force says the state perpetuated.
‘We’ve got to go in with an open mind and come up with some creative ways to deal with this,’ said Assembly member Reggie Jones-Sawyer, one of two lawmakers on the task force responsible for mustering support from state legislators and Gov. Gavin Newsom before any reparations could become reality.
Harris accompanied by Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, depart the Kotoka International airport to continue with her trip to Tanzania and Zambia, in Accra, Ghana
Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff (R) reacts after UHarris (C) received a traditional Kente cloth at the Emintsimadze Palace in Cape Coast, Ghana
Vice President Kamala Harris lays a wreath at Cape Coast Castle in Ghana on Tuesday. It was one of around 40 ‘slave castles’ that served as prisons and embarkation points for slaves en route to the Americas
Harris (center) and Emhoff (right) dressed in traditional garb as they arrived in Ghana earlier Tuesday
Harris addresses young people gathered on Black Star square in Accra, Ghana, on Tuesday
In an interview prior to the meeting, Jones-Sawyer said he needed to consult budget analysts, other legislators and the governor’s office before deciding whether the scale of payments is feasible.
The statewide estimate includes $246 billion to compensate eligible Black Californians whose neighborhoods were subjected to aggressive policing and prosecution of Black people in the ‘war on drugs’ from 1970 to 2020.
That would translate to nearly $125,000 for every person who qualifies.
The numbers are approximate, based on modeling and population estimates. The economists also included $569 billion to make up for the discriminatory practice of redlining in housing loans.
Redlining officially began in the 1930s when the federal government started backing mortgages to support homebuying, but excluded majority black neighborhoods by marking them red on internal maps.
Such compensation would amount to about $223,000 per eligible resident who lived in California from 1933 to 1977. The aggregate is considered a maximum and assumes all 2.5 million people who identify as black in California would be eligible.
Earlier this month, Lisa Holder, a member of the California Reparations Task Force and president of the Equal Justice Society, suggested in a letter that an appropriate figure to be given to applicants would be $360,000.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation in 2020 creating the reparations task force after national protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police.
While federal initiatives have stalled, cities, counties and other institutions have stepped in.
An advisory committee in San Francisco has reportedly recommended $5 million payouts, as well as guaranteed income of at least $97,000 and personal debt forgiveness for qualifying individuals.
Supervisors expressed general support, but stopped short of endorsing specific proposals. They will take up the issue later this year.