Protect Democracy Endorses Bill To Create a Federal Commission on Reparations

In Solidarity with the African American Community on Juneteenth, Protect Democracy Endorses H.R. 40 To Create a Federal Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals

Slave traders first brought enslaved Africans to what is now Florida in 1565. In 1619, Virginians imported enslaved Africans to Jamestown. From then until 1865, the governments of the colonies and then the United States constitutionally and statutorily supported the brutal institution of enslaving African human beings. As the text of H.R. 40 states, “following the abolition of slavery the United States Government, at the Federal, State, and local level, continued to perpetuate, condone and often profit from practices that continued to brutalize and disadvantage African-Americans, including sharecropping, convict leasing, Jim Crow, redlining, unequal education, and disproportionate treatment at the hands of the criminal justice system.”  

This history is not history; it is part of our present. As a result of African slavery and our nation’s continued discrimination against freed slaves and their descendants in the aftermath of slavery’s formal abolition, African-Americans have suffered disproportionate disadvantages in the realms of education, finance, housing, employment, criminal justice, and political power.  

In addition to the horrific human cost in individual lives, these disparities have thwarted America’s noble experiment in trying to create a just democracy. We cannot ever perfect our union so long as any group of people within it are systematically disempowered and not given a fair or equal seat at the table.

Protect Democracy is committed to working towards a day when all Americans are able to participate equally in our democracy.

The Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans is a necessary and long-overdue step on our nation’s road to that day, and towards truly perfecting our democracy.

We thank Representative Sheila Jackson Lee for her leadership on this bill. We thank all of the scholars, activists, citizens and freedom fighters who have committed their lives and in some cases given their lives in service of realizing a more perfect union. And we stand with the African American Community in celebrating this Juneteenth with the hope and determination that America will ultimately fulfill the promise of its ideals.  

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Aditi Juneja

[email protected]

(202) 308-0163