California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday named state Assembly member Shirley Weber to serve as California’s new secretary of state.
Weber is known for authoring legislation on reparations that was codified in the state earlier this year.
Newsom moved quickly to appoint Weber to the post after he named current Secretary of State Alex Padilla to the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Weber, a Democrat from San Diego, saw her bill signed into law in September. The legislation calls for a nine-member task force to study how slavery has impacted Black people in California develop recommendations on how reparations should be distributed to begin to address the harms of slavery and structural racism in the country.
The law does not limit reparations to slavery, although it requires the task force to give special consideration for Black people who are descendants of slaves.
The panel is required to begin meeting no later than June 2021.
California never had a government-sanctioned system of slavery. It entered the Union in 1850 as a free state after gold was discovered in the Sierra Nevada mountains. But the state did let slave-owning whites bring their slaves to California.
The law does not say the reparations must be cash payments. Other options could include forgiving student loans and paying for public works projects or job training.
The U.S. has given reparations in the past, including to Japanese Americans who were held in internment camps during World War II.
Weber would be the first Black woman to hold the position of California’s secretary of state and the fourth woman to ever serve in that role.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.