Oakland, CA—On October 6, the Oakland City Council unanimously passed a resolution co-sponsored by the City Attorney, Vice Mayor Reid, and Councilmember Taylor that directs the City Administrator to immediately implement and provide annual updates at council meetings on implementation of the City’s Slavery Era Disclosure Ordinance. The Ordinance was originally sponsored by the City Attorney and Vice Mayor Reid and was adopted in 2005, but has never been fully implemented. The City Administrator fully supports immediate implementation of the Ordinance.
The Ordinance and this new Resolution officially acknowledge the crime of African enslavement and its ongoing devastating ramifications and legacy for the descendants of enslaved Africans. In adopting the Ordinance, Oakland joined the states of California, Illinois, and Maryland, along with the cities of Berkeley, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, in collectively highlighting how African enslavement and its legacy, beginning with Jim Crow laws, segregation, and sanctioning of brutality and murder of Black people—which continue to this very day—have been a means to build this country and its extraordinary wealth and deprive descendants of enslaved Africans of the fruits of their labor, their contributions, and the wealth they created and sustained.
“The unanimous passage of this resolution mandating immediate implementation of the Ordinance sends a clear message,” said City Attorney Barbara J. Parker. “The Council, City Administrator, and City Attorney are all committed to identifying ways that the City of Oakland can provide funds to redress the legacies of African enslavement, ongoing racial injustice and systemic racism, and lack of public accountability for those who made their fortunes from the labor of enslaved people.”
When fully implemented, the Ordinance will: (1) require a full and accurate disclosure to the public of the scope of historical ties to slavery within Oakland; (2) establish a voluntary fund to provide, among other uses, education support and economic development to economically struggling Oakland neighborhoods; and (3) oblige any City contractor providing insurance, financial, textile, tobacco, railroad, shipping, rice, or sugar services to the City to complete affidavits regarding any evidence of those companies’ historical involvement in slavery.
The Resolution directs the City Administrator to take immediate action to begin implementing and reporting on the 2005 Ordinance, and directs the City Administrator to otherwise implement the Ordinance to the full extent of the law.