Weeks after Democrats took control of Congress and the White House, a Black lawmaker is making a renewed push for a national commission to examine the impact of slavery and reparations for descendants of millions of enslaved Africans.
Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, D-Texas, announced the reintroduction of H.R. 40 to create the reparations commission last month, and next week the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is set to hear testimony on the bill.
H.R. 40 has a long history in the House, championed for decades by the late Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and now by Lee.
The reparations commission would study the history of slavery, the role federal and state governments played in supporting slavery and racial discrimination against the descendants of enslaved Africans.
“Economic issues are the root cause for many critical issues impacting the African American community today,” Lee said.
The commission would make recommendations regarding “any form of apology,” compensation and atonement for slavery, Lee said. “Truth and reconciliation about the ‘original sin of American slavery’ is necessary to light the way to the beloved community we all seek. The uncomfortable truth is that the United States owes its position as the most powerful nation in the world to its slave-owning past.”