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House committee confronts the "inheritance of slavery" in the panel on reparations

Sen. Cory Booker said in a panel that the US needs to address "persistent inequalities" experienced by African Americans by discussing reparations, the idea that descendants of slaves should be compensated for the injustices and cruelty their ancestors experienced

Booker said that the nation has "yet to truly acknowledge and grapple with the racism and white supremacy that tainted this country's founding and continues to cause persistent and profound racial disparities and inequality. 40, and bill that would study how the U.S. would implement repairs to black Americans, amid a national conversation about what the federal government owes descendants of slaves. Booker, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and actor Danny Glover were among the witnesses who testified before the panel.

The panel takes place on "Juneteenth," a holiday commemorating the day of emancipation for slaves in Texas on June 1

9, 1865, as well as the general emancipation of all slaves. A few hundred people lined up outside the door of the hearing room before it started, including a line of people raising their fists in the black power symbol. Dozens of people were brought into the overflow room to view the hearing on video.

The panel held the day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he believed the rights for black Americans had advanced enough to make repairs unnecessary

I do not think that reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for which none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea. We tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a Civil War We have elected an African American president, "McConnell said. McConnell once made his mission to make President Obama a one-time president and work to block legislation supported by Obama throughout the tenure of the first African American president.

As the witness in the first panel, Booker emphasized the importance of HR 40.

"This is a very important hearing." It is a matter of urgency, "Booker, who has introduced the Senate version of the bill, said. He argued that black Americans deserve compensation not only for slavery, but for the legacy of domestic terrorism against black people after the Civil War, segregation, as well as for redlining, and the practice used by mortgage providers that kept black people from obtaining mortgages. 19659003] "We as a nation must address these persistent inequalities," Booker said. "

Booker's proposed American Opportunity Accounts Act, commonly known as" baby bonds ", would provide every child born in the United States with a $ 1,000 savings bond, regardless of race. The child would receive an additional deposit from the government each year, with those in the poorest families receiving up to $ 2,000. The child would be able to access the account at age 18, and only for allowable uses, such as education and home ownership.

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The second panel included several experts on repairs to testify. Coates wrote the seminal 2014 essay in the Atlantic, "The Case for Reparations," which raised interest in repairs among reporters and politicians.

"It's impossible to imagine American without the inheritance of slavery," Coates said, (19659003) "For a century after the Civil War, black people have been subject to a relentless campaign of terror," Coates continued, saying that while "it is tempting to divorce this modern campaign of terror, of plunder, from slavery," the legacy of slavery and discrimination have been tied together and justified rewards.

Coates specifically condemned McConnell, noting that Senate majority leader was alive for much of the violence against black Americans

"Majority Leader McConnell cited civil law rights yesterday, as well as he should, because he was alive to witness hatred, jailing, and betrayal of those responsible for that legislation by a government sworn to protect them. He was alive for redlining Chicago and the looting of black homeowners of some $ 4 billion, "Coates said. "

Glover also testified, saying that he was the grand-grandson of a woman who was enslaved and freed by the emancipation proclamation, whom he met as a child. "This hearing is yet another important step in the long and heroic struggle of the African Americans," Glover said.

"White America must recognize that justice for black people can not be achieved without radically changing the structure of our society, "Glover continued.

 Congress Reparations
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, left, greets actor Danny Glover, before they testify about reparations for descendants of slaves, during a hearing before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday , June 19, 2019.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP


Other witnesses included Katrina Browne, a white woman descended from the largest slave-trading family in the U.S. Browne said that most white Americans are unaware of how involved the North and the Midwest were in slavery, and instinctually want to avoid a sense of shame connected to their ancestors and their countries

Another witness, black freelance writer Coleman Hughes, said that he was opposed to reparations for all descendants of slaves. He suggested that reparations should be paid to those who lived under Jim Crow

"People who are owed for slavery are no longer here," Hughes said. His testimony received boos from the mostly-black audience. After his testimony, one man in the audience stood up and loudly expressed his opposition as he left.

Another black opponent of repairs, former NFL player Burgess Owens, argued that it was possible to achieve the American dream

"It's time to go. through hard work. He also briefly alluded to the influx of illegal immigrants across the border, saying illegal immigration "hurts our race."

However, Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, an episcopal bishop for the Maryland dyke, said that it was important to have a debate between conflicting opinions. He noted that his majority-white diocese had taken up discussions about reparations for the role of the Episcopal Church in the area in abetting slavery, and if his community could have this debate, so could the nation

"Reparations simply mean to repair that's broken. It's not just about monetary compensation, "Sutton said. Coats later disagreed, saying that "cutting a check" would be part of the conversation.

Sutton also pushed back against Owens' opinion that black Americans need to be in control of their own future, saying that the idea that one only needs

Julianne Malveaux, an economist and twin sister of Rep. Karen Bass, argued that all white people benefited from the fruits of the slavery, even if they were or their ancestors were not involved

"It's more than a time for us to deal with the injustices that African Americans have not only experienced in history but continue to experience, "Malveaux said. "Enslavement is the foundation on which this country was built." Malveaux also argued that it was not enough to simply provide compensation to low-income Americans of all races, but specifically to focus on racial economic inequality

"Racism and slavery were our original sins, and we have to "Malveaux said, arguing that reparations needed to be a separate issue from just helping all low-income Americans. "

Malveaux later complained that not enough questions about racial inequality were being directed at experts like her, an economist with deep knowledge in the subject area. She also said that the tone of the hearing was too "kumbaya."

"I want y'all Congress people to deal with the economic structure," Malveaux said. "I'm frustrated about the tone that some of this has taken."

H.R. 40, which was named for the post-Civil War promise of "40 acres and a mule" as compensation for former slavery, has languished in the House since its former Rep. John Conyers first introduced it in 1989. But Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee reintroduced the bill in January. Reportage was a fringe idea – at least among white politicians – but it was receiving more attention from mainstream Democrats in the 2020 presidential campaign . Many of the declared Democratic presidential candidates have staked a position on repairs, or at least support having a national conversation about the issue.

Jackson Lee said in her opening remarks that H.R.

"Slavery has never received an apology," Jackson Lee said, adding that "black people in America are the descendants of Africans kidnapped and transported to the United States "under the auspices of the federal government, as was segregation.

When Jackson Lee opened her line of questioning at the end of the panel, she received applause and cheers from the audience. day, June 19, 2019, be the marker for the commitment for everyone and you who came to support the bill, "Jackson Lee said. She urged Hughes and Owens to read the bill.

In her questioning, Rep. Karen Bass said that the denial of discrimination that black Americans face was damaging, and argued that reparations were being "trivialized" as black people wanting money

"Everyone understands the pain caused by denial of the Holocaust. this, "Bass said.

Few Republican members of the subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties attending the hearing. The ranking member of the subcommittee, GOP Rep. Mike Johnson said in his opening statement that it would be difficult to provide financial compensation to black Americans for the actions taken by a "small" subset of slave-owning Americans. A few members of the audience scoffed, asking, "Small?" Johnson also said that reparations would be "unconstitutional on his face," eliciting boos and hisses from the audience

GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert used most of his questioning time to note that historically members of the Democratic Party had supported the slavery and implemented much of the policies under Jim Crow. The audience repeatedly interrupted Gohmert, at one point with a man shouting, "You lie!"

Separately on Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham said that he did not know where he would stop if he implements repairs

"I just think we are so far removed from the event, it was the original sin of the country. more perfect union rather than look backward because I do not know where it stops when you do that, "Graham said. "We are not a perfect country but we are trying to make a more perfect union and I do not think this helps."

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