FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Robin Chand
January 7, 2019 202-228-3816
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Introduces Legislation for a Commission to Consider Reparations Proposals for Africans Americans
Jackson Lee – “In short, the Commission aims to study the impact of slavery and continuing discrimination against African-Americans, resulting directly and indirectly from slavery to segregation to the desegregation process and the present day. The commission would also make recommendations concerning any form of apology and compensation to begin the long delayed process of atonement for slavery.”
Washington, DC – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior member of the House Committees on Judiciary, Budget and Homeland Security, Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, issued this statement on the introduction of H.R. 40:
“The impact of slavery and its vestiges continues to effect African Americans and indeed all Americans in communities throughout our nation. Which is why I am pleased to introduce H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans Act. This legislation is intended to examine the institution of slavery in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present, and further recommend appropriate remedies. Since the initial introduction of this legislation, its proponents have made substantial progress in elevating the discussion of reparations and reparatory justice at the national level and joining the mainstream international debate on the issues. Though some have tried to deflect the importance of these conversations by focusing on individual monetary compensation, the real issue is whether and how this nation can come to grips with the legacy of slavery that still infects current society. Through legislation, resolutions, news, and litigation, we are moving closer to making more strides in the movement toward reparations.
“Today there are more people at the table — more activists, more scholars, more CEO’s, more state and local officials, and more Members of Congress. However, despite this progress and the election of the first American President of African descent, the legacy of slavery lingers heavily in this nation. While we have focused on the social effects of slavery and segregation, its continuing economic implications remain largely ignored by mainstream analysis. These economic issues are the root cause of many critical issues in the African-American community today, such as education, healthcare and criminal justice policy, including policing practices. The call for reparations represents a commitment to entering a constructive dialogue on the role of slavery and racism in shaping present-day conditions in our community and American society.
“I believe that H.R. 40 is a crucial piece of legislation because it goes beyond exploring the economic implications of slavery and segregation. It is a holistic bill in the sense that it seeks to establish a commission to also examine the moral and social implications of slavery. In short, the Commission aims to study the impact of slavery and continuing discrimination against African-Americans, resulting directly and indirectly from slavery to segregation to the desegregation process and the present day. The commission would also make recommendations concerning any form of apology and compensation to begin the long delayed process of atonement for slavery. With the over criminalization and policing of black bodies, a reoccurring issue in African-American communities, I believe this conversation is both relevant and crucial to restoring trust in governmental institutions in many communities. As in years past, I welcome open and constructive discourse on H.R. 40 and the creation of this commission in the 116th Congress. Though the times and circumstance may change, the principle problem of slavery continues to weigh heavily on this country. A federal commission can help us reach into this dark past and bring us into a brighter future.”