A group of lawmakers is stepping in to bolster reparations efforts that would benefit the descendants of enslaved Africans.
On Wednesday, Reps. Cori Bush, D-Mo., Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., stood in front of the Capitol while released «Repairs Now”, a resolution urging the federal government to take steps to compensate the descendants of slaves. The measure is intended to draw attention back to HR 40, the slow-moving federal bill that has been introduced to Congress every term since 1989, and to create a commission to examine the issue.
Bush told the news conference that the nation has a «moral and legal obligation» to provide reparations to blacks for slavery and the resulting racist systems.
“Black people in our country cannot wait any longer for our government to start addressing any and all of the extraordinary damage, all of the damage that it has caused since the founding, that it continues to perpetuate every day throughout our communities, throughout the world. country,» Bush said.
The issue of reparations has been persistently in and out of headlines in recent years, and the 2020 protests following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor brought the issue back into the spotlight, prompting states and cities to consider ways to compensate Black people. Supporters of the initiative have pointed to the discrimination and systemic racism that followed slavery as a reason to think hard about compensating blacks. Everything from red lines and segregation to poverty rates have come into play in the national conversation.
«We know that we continue to live under the vestiges of slavery,» Bush continued Wednesday.
“We know how slavery has perpetuated Jim Crow. We know how the impacts of slavery live today, from the black-white wealth gap to voter suppression, segregation and red lining to disparities in infant mortality rates and other health outcomes.”
The resolution comes as California leaders are grappling with reparations at the state level. A statewide reparations task force, the first in the nation, has worked for nearly two years to review a sample of proposals and deliver a report on how Black Californians should be compensated. The final report of the nine-member task force, due to be delivered to lawmakers on July 1, will include a list of recommendations. Lawmakers on the panel recommended that “any repair program include payment in cash or its equivalent” to eligible residents.
In 2021, Evanston, Illinois became the first city in the country to fund repairs for Black residents, establishing a housing program as the first step in a $10 million repair plan. Other cities and even religious education institutions have promised to do the same. funding various programs and scholarship creation for blacks.