California’s Hidden History, The Case For Reparations

California enslaved Black people. Now a historic panel is calling on the state to pay reparations to descendants of enslaved African Americans for generations of government-sanctioned discrimination that deprived them of the opportunity to build wealth.

California’s Hidden History, The Case For Reparations

Advertisement from the San Francisco Herald, 1852

Photo: Advertisement from the San Francisco Herald, 1852

The African American story in the United States is marked by repeated failed promises to right the wrongs of the past—both distant and recent—and failure to acknowledge and take responsibility for the structural racism that perpetuated these harms.

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Gold miner

Gold Rush and
Shattered Dreams

In the first test of California’s Fugitive Slave Law, three formerly enslaved black men who had built a lucrative mining supply business were stripped of their freedom and deported back to Mississippi.

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George Gordon newspaper clipping

The Crime of
Testimony Laws

George Gordon, a black barber was shot to death by a white man in full view of witnesses in his San Francisco shop. A judge refused to allow the testimony of blacks because of their race. The killer got a lighter sentence as a result.

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Reparations Task Force

Reparations Task Force

As the nation watches, California takes the historic step to investigate the state’s complicity in the enslavement of Black people. On June 29, 2023 a state task force released their historic 1100-page report.

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Biddy Mason

From Enslaved
to Entrepreneur

Bridget “Biddy” Mason was brought as a slave to California. When she learned of her legal rights, she sued for freedom for herself and her family and won, in what became a landmark court case.

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The mission of Gold Chains is to uncover the hidden history of slavery in California by lifting up the voices of courageous African American and Native American individuals who challenged their brutal treatment and demanded their civil rights, inspiring us with their ingenuity, resilience, and tenacity. We aim to expose the role of the courts, laws, and the tacit acceptance of white supremacy in sanctioning race-based violence and discrimination that continues into the present day. Through an unflinching examination of our collective past, we invite California to become truly aware and authentically enlightened.