Danny Glover and author Ta-Nehisi Coates are heading to Capitol Hill next week to testify at a hearing on slavery reparations. The hearing, which will be held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on June 19, is set to explore the “legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice,” according to NBC News.
Coates broached the issue in The Case for Reparations, a 2014 essay published in The Atlantic, and Glover has long supported reparations. The reparations hearing is the first to be held in the House in over a decade and coincides with Juneteenth, the annual celebration marking the abolition of slavery in the U.S.
Michigan’s former Democratic Rep. John Conyers originally introduced a measure to study reparations in 1989, and reintroduced House Resolution 40 in 2017. The bill “establishes a commission to study and develop reparation proposals for African-Americans to examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present.” The resolution also seeks to “recommend appropriate remedies.”
Paying out reparations to the descendants of slaves has been an ongoing topic in the 2020 presidential campaign, though many have fallen short of clearly stating whether they stand for, or against, reparations.
Sen. Corey Booker introduced a bill to study reparations earlier in the year. Sen. Kamala Harris has said that she is open to studying the “effects” of systematic “discrimination and institutional racism” and to “determine what can be done.” Fellow Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders doesn’t support reparations for slave descendants, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren supports reparations.
Meanwhile, former vice president Joe Biden has been catching heat for opposing reparations and desegregation in 1975 comments that recently resurfaced. “I do not buy the concept, popular in the ‘60s, which said, ‘We have suppressed the black man for 300 years and the white man is now far ahead in the race for everything our society offers. In order to even the score, we must now give the black man a head start, or even hold the white man back, to even the race.’ I don’t buy that,” Biden said at the time. “I don’t feel responsible for the sins of my father and grandfather.”
In February, Democratic presidential candidate and author, Marianne Williamson called for the U.S. to shell out $100 billion for reparations.
Williamson touted the plan as a much needed “moral and spiritual awakening” for America. “Nothing short of that is adequate to fundamentally change the patters of our political dysfunction,” Williamson said.