A dramatic day on Capitol Hill Wednesday, as the House of representatives for the first time held a hearing on on reparations for black Americans economically impacted by slavery.
At issue, HR 40, a bill that would establish a commission to study the effects of centuries of discrimination and appropriate remedies.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE: “HR 40 is in fact the response of the American government long overdue.
Slavery is the original sin.” The hearings gathered African-American leaders and intellectuals to debate the merits of such a measure.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) ACTOR DANNY GLOVER SAYING: “I sit here as the great-grandons of a former slave.
A national reparations policy is a moral democratic and economic imperative.” SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Author Coleman Hughes: “We would insult many black Americans by putting a price on the suffering of their ancestors.” Many presidential candidates support reparations including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SENATOR CORY BOOKER SAYING: “We have not had direct conversation about a lot of the root causes of a lot of the inequities and the pain and the hurt manifested in economic disparities, manifested in health disparities, manifested in a criminal justice system that is indeed a form of new Jim Crow.” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday came out against it.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL: “I don’t think repartitions for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible.” The writer Ta Nehisi Coates took issue with this position Wednesday, saying the effects of slavery and jim crow are anything but ancient history.
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) WRITER Ta Nehisi Coates: "For a century after the Civil War black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority leader McConnell.” Issuing reparations to all living people who are descendants of slaves or who have suffered from the ills of racial discrimination targeted at black people has been estimated to cost trillions of dollars.