Governor Phil Murphy talks about possible future slave reparations in New Jersey


TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a wealthy white former Wall Street executive from Massachusetts lives in a mansion built by former slave owner Richard Stockton named Drumthwacket. Now, Murphy could be considering proposals from Newark legislators who are demanding a “Reparations Task Force”.

While celebrating the nation’s first ever Juneteenth federal holiday, community leaders in Newark demanded that New Jersey enacts a reparations bill.

New Jersey was one of the few states that abolished slavery in 1804 and by the time Juneteenth arrived more than a half-century later, the last 16 indentured servants were set completely free. Now, 215 years after slavery was abolished in New Jersey, Newark leaders want African Americans to be paid.

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Now those leaders are channeling the successful energy of Juneteenth into an effort to get the New Jersey Legislature and Governor Murphy to push a reparations bill through the system, to be signed into law by the governor.

When asked if he would support a reparations bill, Murphy, knowing re-election looms in just five months tip-toed around the question and spoke about his new racial disparity task force.

“This is looking at all reasons, particularly in black and brown communities why the gap in net worth is as staggeringly wide as it is. It’s all-encompassing. This is a far-reaching endeavor,” Murphy said. The numbers are staggering, so this is a huge piece of unfinished business that has been building for centuries. 402 years, I believe, since slavery first came to our shores in that respect and also the decades of the carnage created by the war on drugs, but if folks don’t know the numbers, they need to understand the numbers as a first step, and you’re talking about gaps in net worth that are 40 to 50, not percent off, times off.”

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Murphy said that task force’s work will expand behind slave reparations and economic gaps in black communities, but will also seek to deliver financial equity to other communities of color.

“On average, an African American family or a Latino family, you look at their net worth, and you compare it to a white family, it’s literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in the latter, and it’s under $10,000 in both of those communities in the former,” Murphy said. “We’ve got to do something about that, and it’s a far-reaching reality in terms of why we are where we are, and it’s going to need to be a far-reaching scope of that task force.”

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