House Democrats To Hold Debate On Reparations for African-Americans

first ever markup and debate of H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.

On April 14th at 10:00 AM, the House Judiciary Committee will hold the first ever markup and debate of H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.

The legislation, which was first introduced nearly 30 years ago, establishes a commission to examine slavery and discrimination in the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.

“The historic markup of H.R. 40 is intended to continue a national conversation about how to confront the brutal mistreatment of African-Americans during chattel slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and the enduring structural racism that remains endemic to our society today,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). “Long after slavery was abolished, segregation and subjugation of African-Americans was a defining part of this nation’s policies that shaped its values and its institutions. Today, we still live with racial disparities in access to education, health care, housing, insurance, employment and other social goods that are directly attributable to the damaging legacy of slavery and government-sponsored racial discrimination. The creation of a commission under H.R. 40 to study these issues is not intended to divide, but to continue the efforts commenced by states, localities and private institutions to reckon with our past and bring us closer to racial understanding and advancement.”

“Since its introduction in 1989 by the late Chairman John Conyers, and now through its continued introduction, H.R. 40 has galvanized governmental acknowledgement of the crime of slavery and its continuing societal impact,” said bill sponsor and Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Chair Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX). “Next week’s markup of H.R. 40 by the Judiciary Committee is a major step toward the creation of a long overdue national commission to study and develop reparation proposals. Through this legislation, we will finally be able to confront the stark societal disparities occurring in the African-American community today and provide solutions. By passing H.R. 40, Congress can also start a movement toward the national reckoning we need to bridge racial divides. Reparations are ultimately about respect and reconciliation — and the hope that one day, all Americans can walk together toward a more just future.”

“Our Nation continues to struggle with the legacy of the anti-Black racism that undergirded slavery and Jim Crow,” said Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Chairman Steve Cohen (D-TN). “Enacting H.R. 40 would create a study that may propose programs for finding effective long-term solutions for wealth creation, education, fair housing and access to health care that continue to plague the Black community. It is hoped this study will help explain to the American people the promises made to African-Americans after the Civil War and the lingering effects of not keeping those promises.”

The markup will stream live here.


Introduced by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee and joined by almost 180 cosponsors, H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, would create a commission to study the history of slavery in the United States and in the American colonies from 1619 to 1865; the role of the federal and state governments in supporting slavery; federal and state laws that discriminated against the descendants of African slaves; other forms of discrimination against the descendants of African slaves; and the lingering effects of slavery on African Americans. The commission would also make recommendations as to appropriate ways to educate the American public about its findings and appropriate remedies in light of the commission’s findings.

On February 17th, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a hearing examining the legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice.

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