By Amy Lukau
A Michigan Congressman has re-introduced legislation to provide reparations to African Americans before the 115th Congress.
At 87 years old John Conyers is unrelenting. The legislation, known as H.R. 40 seeks to do the following:
“To address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.”
Conyers said, “I’m not giving up” and that “slavery is a blemish on this nation’s history, and until it is formally addressed, our country’s story will remain marked by this blight.”
Beginning in 1989, Conyers a member of the House Judiciary Committee has repeatedly introduced HR. 40, a bill that would establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery in the U.S. and its early colonies, and provide appropriate recommendations.
On August 18 2016, the United Nations concluded the history of slavery in the United States justifies reparations for African Americans, “In particular, the legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent,” the report stated. “Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching.”
Some would argue that former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton offered apologies, however, their action were merely symbolic that purposely left out monetary claims.
The U.S. and select nations of the world have provided reparations to marginalized groups in the past, for example in 1980 for Japanese Americans who were placed in U.S. internment camps during World War II, restoration of lands to Native Americans, and the billions that Germany paid to Jewish Holocaust survivors.
Conyers bill, H.R. 40, is numbered in recognition of the unfulfilled promise to freed slaves of “40 acres and a mule.”
The harm caused by slavery has impacted descendants. After decades of Jim Crow segregation there has been racial discrimination and policies that still affect many African-Americans today in education, housing, healthcare, and the criminal justice system Conyers told Congress in a letter.