Democrat congresswoman calls slave reparations a 'bold effort that people want to not do'

Jackson Lee asks for more support to study reparations, saying slave descendants have 'not had wealth transfer.'

Published: July 10, 2020 6:04pm

Updated: July 10, 2020 11:27pm

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee called on Democrats to mobilize together and advocate for passage of a bill to form a commission on slave reparations, calling it a "bold effort that people want to not do."

"You must as a community ensure that the Congress moves on H.R. 40 and that is call your members of Congress to ensure they are co-sponsors," she said on Friday during a virtual town hall on "Systemic Racism Beyond Policing."

"We're the provocative legislation that people want to think twice about being on because it clearly says that something must be done about the governmental action that was done to enslave Africans and then the descendants of enslaved Africans," she added.

The Texas Democrat referred to her bill, Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, as "the mother of this movement of trying to get us where we need to be."

It would establish a committee to "examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies." The legislation currently has 136 Democratic co-sponsors in the House.

"This legislation deals with restoration. It deals with the question of repair, and it also deals with the question of the government influence in the question of restoration," she said.

Jackson Lee said African-Americans haven't received "compensation" for slavery.

"We did not get legally the compensation and the wealth transfer by not getting 40 acres and a mule," she said. "So we have seen the government clamp down on our opportunities for equality, the black codes, the failed reconstruction. It only lasted for 12 years, even though there was a push of African-Americans and descendants of enslaved Africans who were governors and they were lieutenants, and they were clearly people of dignity but it didn't last long."

Jackson called for lawmakers to begin "embracing the work" of a new "Department of Reconciliation," which has been proposed by Rep. Al Green of Texas.

"We have seen the calling, if you will, for a better education, and of course, we've not had wealth transfer," she said.

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