A once-extreme position — reparations for slavery in this country — is enjoying the support of more and more Democrats these days as those in the party strategize ahead of next year’s elections.
And in the days ahead, activist and actor Danny Glover will be addressing Congress on the issue.
As conservative radio host and writer Wayne Dupree put it, “Why are actors testifying before Congress about issues not directly related to acting? Legal, historical, and economic experts should be occupying the time of Congress about this issue.”
“Why does Congress have so much time to waste by allowing celebrities to testify outside of their area of expertise?” he added.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) April 3, 2019
“The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is scheduled to hold the hearing [on] Wednesday, its stated purpose ‘to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice,'” as the Associated Press reported on the topic.
The hearing’s date — June 19 — “coincides with Juneteenth, a cultural holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved black people in America.”
Former Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) is the one who first proposed the measure calling for a study of reparations back in 1989, as the AP noted. And he “reintroduced the bill every session until his resignation in 2017.”
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) is now the resolution’s new sponsor. She “introduced it earlier this year and pushed for next week’s hearing,” as the AP and others noted.
“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in February that she supports a reparations study, a topic that hasn’t been the subject of a House hearing since 2007.”
If Sheila Jackson Lee wants Americans to pay reparations for slavery, will African Americans be asked to pay reparations for the 400 years Northern Africa held Jews in slavery?
— Lori Perkins (@RightLadyNC) June 13, 2019
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) June 15, 2019
An addition to Booker, a number of other 2020 Democratic candidates have indicated support for the issue as well.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), for example, was asked recently if he would support reparations for slavery by signing Sheila Jackson Lee’s bill that would do just that.
Appearing at the Nation Action Network’s convention earlier this year alongside Rev. Al Sharpton, O’Rourke said, “Yes. Civil rights are not just those victories that I began with at the outset of my comments, but the injustices that have been visited and continue to be visited on people.”
“We will never get the change that we need to live up to the promise of this country. So absolutely, I would sign that into law,” O’Rourke added.
This was a change in position for O’Rourke, as The Political Insider and others noted.
“[In March 2019], O’Rourke told an audience in Iowa he was not in favor of traditional reparations for African Americans, a position he was later confronted on during a stop in South Carolina,” as U.S. News and World Report reported.
“‘Why should I, as a black man, vote for you when you oppose reparations?’” a man asked O’Rourke, as Mediaite reported.
“We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it, and do better when it comes to our regard and treatment of people of any nationality today.”
“O’Rourke replied with a long answer, arguing that making institutional changes like eliminating voter identification laws and gerrymandering would ‘begin … to get some of that repair,’” U.S. News also noted.
“Addressing past wrongdoings only reminds us of misdeeds and mistakes that we cannot change or erase by reparations,” said Dupree. “We ALL need to move on and spend our energy on improving the present rather than trying to make up for past mistakes. We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it, and do better when it comes to our regard and treatment of people of any nationality today.”
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