House Democrats have renewed their push for reparations and a national apology for slavery with the reintroduction of legislation that would set up a commission to consider steps to address the “cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery” in the United States.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and 52 House Democrats proposed the legislation to keep the issue alive.
The legislation, considered by the House Judiciary Committee in the last Congress when Democrats were in control, is not likely to be taken up in the 118th Congress led by Republicans.
However, Jackson Lee said she was hopeful about forming a commission to recommend monetary compensation and help America understand how slavery still affected the country, Fox News reported.
Jackson Lee re-upped legislation to create a commission to examine slavery and reparations this week.
“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,” she said.
“Through legislation, resolutions, news, and litigation, we are moving closer to making more strides in the movement toward reparations,” she added.
In November, the new House Democratic Leader, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, expressed support for the idea of a commission because of the lingering effects of slavery.
“We’re not going to move on because after slavery, [there was] Jim Crow and the rise of the KKK,” Jeffries said in 2021.
“And the lynching epidemic. And Plessy v. Ferguson. And Black Wall Street in 1921 destroyed.”
Jackson Lee said, “the legacy of slavery lingers heavily in this nation.”
She added that monetary compensation needs to be part of the discussion because of the economic impact of slavery can still be felt today.
Legislation on reparations is unlikely to move in the GOP-led House.
“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,” she said.
“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,” she added.
The bill does not recommend what type of payment should be offered or how a national apology would be issued
The commission would examine the “lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery… on living African Americans.”
Jackson Lee said the bill is more relevant than ever given what she called the “over-criminalization and policing of black bodies.”
“The principal problem of slavery continues to weigh heavily on this country,” she said.
“A federal commission can help us reach into this dark past and bring us into a brighter future.”