Reparations for Black Americans Makes Progress

Updated: Mar 13


On April 14th, 2021, the Associated Press reported the good news that reparations for Black Americans, (Descendants of America’s slaves) are gaining momentum.


It appears that President Joe Biden is on board with the idea of appointing a commission to study slave reparations.

The White House has said he supports the idea of studying reparations for the descendants of slaves. But as of now, it is unclear how aggressively POTUS would push for passage of the bill amid other pressing priorities.


The legislation would establish a commission to examine slavery and discrimination in the United States from the year 1619 to the present. The commission would then recommend ways to educate Americans about its findings and appropriate remedies, including how the government would offer a formal apology and what form of compensation should be awarded.


In this timely report, AP reported that a House panel advanced a decades-long effort to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves by approving legislation known as H.R. 40 on Wednesday, April 14th, 2021 that would create a commission to study the issue. It is the first time the House Judiciary Committee has acted on the legislation to correct the imbalance of generational wealth created by 402 years of slavery that stunted the economic and political empowerment of a select group of America’s citizens.


The bill, commonly referred to as H.R. 40, was first introduced by Rep. John Conyers*, D-Mich., in 1989. The 40 in the H.R.40 refers to the failed government effort to provide 40 acres of land to newly freed slaves as the Civil War ended.


The report does warn us that prospects for final passage remain poor in such a closely divided Congress. However, the vote to advance the measure to the full House passed 25-17 after a lengthy and often passionate debate that stretched late into the night. We thank god for small miracles along the way.


As Rep. Jerrold Nadler said, “This legislation is long overdue,” “H.R. 40 is intended to begin 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.”


It is of worthy note that the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, became the first U.S. city to make reparations available to its Black residents for past discrimination and the lingering effects of slavery. The money will come from the sale of recreational marijuana. Qualifying households would receive $25,000 for home repairs, down payments on property, and interest or late penalties on property in the city. Other communities and organizations considering reparations range from the state of California to cities like Amherst, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; Asheville, North Carolina; and Iowa City, Iowa; religious denominations like the Episcopal Church; and prominent colleges like Georgetown University in Washington.


We will keep our eyes on this issue and keep you posted.


*Special note; Mr. John Conyers Jr. was an American politician of the Democratic Party who served as a U.S. Representative for Michigan from 1965 to 2017. Mr. Conyers died on October 27, 2019. He was the longest-serving African American congressman.

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Source: The Associated Press, Kevin Freking, House Panel Votes to Advance Bill on Slavery Reparations, April 14, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/race-and-ethnicity-discrimination-legislation-slavery-john-conyers-4929d09132b8a72e655d8a42cc068a9d


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