June 14, 2019

Van Hollen Cosponsors Reparations Bill

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), cosponsored a reparations bill (S.1083) introduced by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). The landmark bill, is the only reparations bill ever to be introduced in the post-Reconstruction U.S. Senate.

This bill would establish a commission to study the impact of slavery and continuing discrimination against African-Americans and make recommendations on reparation proposals for the descendants of slaves.

The other cosponsors in the Senate are as follows:

U.S. Sens. Edward Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) , Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Richard Durbin (D-IL). Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).

“Generations of African-Americans have been impacted by the social and economic harm caused by slavery. This legislation establishes a mechanism to consider ways to confront that fundamental injustice, and I’m proud to join my colleagues in cosponsoring this bill,” said Senator Van Hollen

“We cannot address the institutional racism and white supremacy that has economically oppressed African-Americans for generations without first fully documenting the extent of the harms of slavery and its painful legacy.  It’s important that we right the wrongs of our nation’s most discriminatory policies, which halted the upward mobility of African-American communities,” said Senator Booker.  “I’m encouraged to see this legislation to study the issue gain support in Congress and the shared commitment my colleagues have in doing our part to repair the harm done to African-Americans.”

“Slavery and a long history of systemically racist policies have physically and economically enslaved generations of African Americans. It is impossible for us to craft an American future that is fair and just without openly acknowledging and confronting its inequalities. This legislation is just the start of a long overdue national conversation that I am proud to support,” said Senator Markey.

“I am proud to support this legislation to create a commission studying reparations,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This is a conversation that is long overdue, and it is our first step as a nation toward finally acknowledging the truth that hundreds of years of slavery and institutional racism caused mass inequity and harm to black communities all over the country. Congress has a responsibility to pass this important bill, and I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting it.”

“Slavery and government-sanctioned discrimination are a stain on this country that, among many consequences, has robbed Black families of wealth in America for generations,” said Senator Warren. “This commission will help inform the conversation about the kind of systemic, structural changes we need to begin to heal.”

“For centuries, America’s economic rise relied on treating millions of Black people as literal property. We have still not come to terms with the horrors of legalized slavery and its continuing impacts on our society. I am proud to co-sponsor the H.R. 40 Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act to finally bring the truth about slavery into the open,” said Senator Sanders.

“The enslavement of Africans in America has had significant and long-lasting economic and social impacts on their descendants, who continue to face racial discrimination.  It is time for a commission to study and suggest reparations proposals as part of a larger effort to ameliorate the systemic racism in American society. I hope we will see a report and recommendation from this commission before long,” said Senator Hirono.

“As we fight to make America more just for all who live here, we must continue to address the immorality of the past. In order to invest in the communities that still bear the scars of slavery, we have to start by understanding its lasting effects. That is why I support this critical legislation,” said Senator Klobuchar.

“The horrors of slavery persisted for over 200 years in the United States, systematically subjugating and exploiting Africans.  As Americans committed to liberty and justice for all, I believe that we have an obligation to better understand the institution of slavery and its lasting impact on the African-American community.  I am proud to join Senator Booker in introducing this legislation that will provide Congress with the tools and information necessary to have a more educated and nuanced conversation about these important issues,” said Senator Coons.

S.1083 is the Senate companion to H.R.40, introduced earlier this year in the House of Representatives by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).

“Since the initial introduction of this legislation in 1989, the importance of examining the institution of slavery in the United States has been recognized across a broad range of our society. I am pleased that Senator Booker has introduced a Senate Companion to H.R. 40. I salute his dedication to elevating the discussion of reparations and reparatory justice, and look forward to the dialogue that this issue engenders on and off Capitol Hill,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

Organizations Endorsing the Bill in the Senate and House:

Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network (NAN); National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America; NAACP; NACCP Legal Defense and Education Fund; ACLU; Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights; Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Alliance for Democracy; American Association of University Women; Association of Black Psychologist; Black Radical Congress; California American Friends Service Committee; Caucasians United for Reparations and Equality (C.U.R.E.); Coalition of Labor Union Women; Communication Workers of America; Council of Independent Black Institutions; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; Detroit Board of Education: Institute of the Black World; International Association of Black Firefighters; Nation of Islam; National Association of Black Social Workers; National Association of Real Estate Brokers; National Baptist Convention; National Bar Association; National Black Environmental Justice League; National Black United Front; National Conference of Black Lawyers; National Conference of Black Political Scientists; National Lawyers Guild; National Political Congress of Black Women Inc.; National Rainbow Push Coalition; National Urban League; Republic of New Africa; Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority;  The Green Party; TransAfrica Forum; United Church of Christ; United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society;

Universal Negro Improvement Association; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom