By Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media
Reverend Amos C. Brown is Vice President and Senior Member working on the nine-member California Task Force to Study and Develop Compensation Proposals for African Americans.
Brown, 80, says he is “extremely pleased” with what the commission accomplished after four meetings.
The task force held its fifth and final session of its two-day meeting for 2021 on 7 December and 8 December. As written 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 very focused and objective. We have some of the best minds — people who know the history, psychology and sociology of the pressure that black people have felt in this country,” 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. Webber authored the bill while serving in the state assembly representing San Diego’s 79th district.
The law calls on the state to form a task force to study slavery and segregation in Jim Crow and other forms of injustice that African Americans have faced historically in California and across the United States.
The group would then recommend appropriate ways to educate Californians about reparations and suggest ways to compensate descendants of slaves based on the task force’s findings.
Staff members come from diverse professional backgrounds. So far, the commission has heard testimonies from a range of experts and witnesses, including descendants and representatives of individuals or families who have denied justice in the past; As well as historians, economists and academics.
“We’re in the process of balancing, comprehensive, and case-finding so you don’t experience paralysis in the analysis or become just another study,” Brown said. “We have done too many studies of black people 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 US pledge of allegiance.
According to Brown, African Americans in his hometown of San Francisco need to overcome decades of psychological damage wrought by racism, discrimination, and unfair government policies, including some urban renewal programs that harm black families more than they help.
On November 22, Brown joined with actor Danny Glover, other local black leaders, and members of the San Francisco Compensation Commission, to ask the city to donate the Fillmore Historic Heritage Center to the African American community.
Brown said that many referred to the Fillmore neighborhood as the “Harlem of the West” in the 1940s. By 1945, more than 30,000 black Americans lived in the Historic District.
Today, about 6% of San Francisco’s population of about 875,000 people are black or of mixed African descent.
“San Francisco city leaders have a moral obligation to right the racial wrongs that have destroyed that culture and community and 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 culture and Fillmore nightclubs that attracted music greats such as Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday and more.
Last May, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to appoint 15 members to the African American Compensation Advisory Committee.
“This building, that land, represents the disenfranchisement, the reorientation of the black population of this city, and the redevelopment agency is not fair,” Brown said. “Fillmore, 12 buildings, was itself a center of black entertainment, black culture, black business, and black life. You cannot erase our history or our heritage.”
Born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1941, Brown says he was delivering JET when the popular weekly published pictures of the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till by a racist gang in August 1955 in Money, Mississippi, a rural area famous for farming. of cotton. Till’s summary execution 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 that deformed head. It terrified me. I remember it clearly.”
At the age of fifteen, Brown started his first National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) youth council. In 1956, Medgar Evers, a Mississippi official with the NAACP, brought Brown, then 15, to San Francisco for the NAACP National Convention where he first met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..
Brown later studied under King at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
In 1961, he was arrested with King at a luncheon sit-in and joined the Freedom Riders, a group of activists who protested segregation in the South.
“In 1960, before I joined the Freedom Riders, the NAACP Youth Council organized its first ‘protest’ in Oklahoma City in August 1958,” Brown said. “The first sit-in movement did not begin in Greensboro, North Carolina. It began in Oklahoma City, Wichita (Kansas), and Louisville (Kentucky) under the auspices of the NAACP Youth Council.”
Brown holds a Doctor of Divinity from United Theological Seminary in Ohio and a Master of Divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania.
Brown has been pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco since 1976. From 1996 to 2001, he served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He is president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP and a member of the organization’s national board of directors.
Brown said he is monitoring compensation legislation and talks across the country to see if the proposals made are in sync with California’s efforts.
“What I want to achieve is this: that blacks know that something has been done about their pain — and it can be done in California,” Brown said. “Things can never be perfect, but at least collectively conscious and well-meaning people can stand up and say, ‘This is what we must do to correct this mistake. “