California is the first state in the country to seriously consider reparations for Black Americans, USA Today reports.

The California Reparations Task Force—comprised of academics, lawyers, civil rights leaders, lawmakers, and other experts — was convened by Gov. Gavin Newsom as members have been studying the state’s role in perpetuating the legacy of slavery.

“We need to lead on this. We need to show the nation what reparations truly can look like,” said California State Sen. Steven Bradford, who is one of two lawmakers appointed to the task force. “It’s often said, ‘so goes California, so goes the nation.’”

During testimonies last week, members of the task force listened to numerous experts speak about “the exclusion of Black people in tech and public health, and the effects of discrimination on African Americans' mental and physical health." This was the sixth time the group has met since last summer.

Theopia Jackson, a professor of psychology at Saybrook University in Pasadena, California, testified before the commission Friday about the psychological toll systemic racism and discrimination has had on Black Americans. She encouraged the task force to not only provide direct payments but to “target the systems that continue to do harm to our people from a psychological, emotional, and spiritual place.”

According to a 2019 Gallup poll, cash payments as reparations are widely supported by Black Americans and largely unpopular with white Americans.

Chris Lodgson, the lead organizer with the Coalition for a Just and Equitable California, hopes that direct cash payments will be a part of a more comprehensive package.

“The path forward is going to have to, in addition to that, create specific types of reparations that target helping our people here in California become not just more powerful consumers, but also help us to become better producers,” Lodgson said. “So that must go hand in hand with direct cash payments and that means endowing us with business grants, endowing us with industrial grants.”

California is following the example of several cities that have provided some form of reparations throughout the county, EBONY previously reported.

Evanston, Illinois, became the first city in the nation to approve financial reparations for Black Americans. The city approved a $10 million reparations fund for its Black residents and for the descendants of Black ancestors who lived in the city. Last month, a program was rolled out with the first group of beneficiaries receiving $25,000 housing grants.

Reparations advocacy groups believe that local and state organizing will be instrumental in passing HR 40, a reparations bill, and creating “the infrastructure for a federal reparations program.”

“Local operations are going to help identify patterns and where resources are most needed in areas across the country,” said Kamm Howard, co-chair of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, a leading group that helped HR 40 get off the ground in 1989. “The local initiatives provide the federal government with “shovel ready” projects that have been tested and proven to be successful, and that needs to be expanded on a federal scale.”

The report from the task force is scheduled to be released in June 2022, but the committee has until the summer of 2023 to offer proposals to California lawmakers.

After the release of the report, the next hurdle is passing a bill in the state Legislature.

“My biggest fear, after the work we’ve done with this task force, will be the Legislature,” Bradford said. "I’m hoping that they have the courage to do the right thing and support the legislation that clearly defines what reparations looks like in California."

“If we can’t do it in liberal California, it surely won’t get done in any of the conservative red states in the South,” he added.

In the past, the U.S. government has issued reparations to victims who endured systemic racial violence. President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, which provided $20,000 in payments to Japanese Americans who were forced into internment camps during World War II in 1988.