San Francisco formally apologizes to Black residents for 'systemic discrimination'

San Francisco's Board of Supervisors approved the apology resolution Tuesday.

February 27, 2024, 7:15 PM

San Francisco is offering a formal apology to its Black residents for decades of systemic discrimination and targeted acts of violence.

In a historic move on Tuesday, all 11 members of the city's Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to adopt a resolution to apologize to Black residents and commit to "the rectification and redress of past policies and misdeeds."

The resolution "apologizes on behalf of the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco to African Americans and their descendants for systemic and structural discrimination, targeted acts of violence, and atrocities," according to San Francisco's legislation.

During the meeting, Supervisor Shamann Walton thanked the African American Reparations Advisory Committee -- which develops recommendations for repairing harm in Black communities -- and noted, "We have much more work to do but this apology most certainly is an important step."

PHOTO: People listen during a rally in support of reparations for African Americans outside City Hall in San Francisco, Sept. 19, 2023.
People listen during a rally in support of reparations for African Americans outside City Hall in San Francisco, Sept. 19, 2023.
Eric Risberg/AP

This resolution is the first recommendation the Board of Supervisors has approved from the committee.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen reflected on the mass protests following the death of George Floyd and the widespread call for reform across America, which was a driving force in the formal apology.

"People in the United States were everywhere all across the country out in the streets and saying enough is enough," Ronen said. "It was one of the most exciting moments that I've ever gotten to live through because it felt like there was a real fundamental change and reckoning happening."

San Francisco follows Boston in being among the first major cities to enact a formal apology of this kind.

In May 2023, a California state reparations task force voted to approve recommendations on one of the most significant reparations campaigns for Black Americans in modern U.S. history.

The task force proposed for eligible Californians to receive atonement under international law’s five forms of reparations: compensation, restitution, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition, according to task force chair Kamilah Moore.

According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of African Americans support reparations for the descendants of enslaved people.

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