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It's Time to Act: Tell Your Representative to Support H.R. 40!
On January 4th, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee re-introduced H.R. 40, The “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act” in the House of Representatives. This bill will create an expert federal commission to examine reparations for African American descendants of enslavement. The commission of 13 people would be tasked with examining the history of enslavement in the United States and the systemic racism that resulted, including federal and state governments’ role in supporting it, and recommend appropriate remedies to Congress.

Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.) first introduced H. R. 40 in 1989. It has been introduced in every succeeding Congress since that time. However, despite support for the bill continually growing, the bill has yet to be brought to a committee vote until now. 

H.R. 40 is scheduled for a committee vote TODAY Wednesday, April 14th. Tell Your Representative to Support H.R. 40!

Examining the impacts of policy and providing reparations to impacted communities is a common governmental practice. In 1862 congress passed the Compensated Emancipation Act, which ended enslavement in Washington D.C. However, the law also provided direct compensation to slave owners in D.C. for the “loss of their human property.”  Additionally, in 1980, Congress established the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians to study the wrongful internment of U.S. citizens and permanent residents during World War II. This led to the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which issued a formal apology and provided compensation to survivors of internment and their families. 

The concept of reparations is not new to the federal government. However, the government has never provided redress to the Black community for the harm caused by enslavement and the resulting systemic racism that still occurs today.  In 2020 alone, we have seen examples of the detrimental impact of our country’s long history of systemic issues on the Black community. It is time to make right the injustices of the past and present and pass H.R. 40! 

The 216th General Assembly (2004) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) adopted the Report of the Task Force to Study Reparations,affirming that Jesus Christ calls us to repair wrongs done to one another and to work for personal and social reconciliation and renewal.” This involves “remembering, restoring, repairing, and redressing injustices for the purpose of reconciliation and human restitution … and acknowledgment of beneficial gains at the expense of others or harm done to others…”

Many educational institutions have acknowledged their contributions to enslavement. Our own Union Presbyterian Seminary has created a $1,000,000 endowment in support of reparations for descendants of enslaved Africans. For the first time in U.S. history, local governments are taking steps towards redress. Recently, the city of Evanston, IL established the Local Reparations Restorative Housing Program as a step towards repairing historic harm to the Black and African American community caused by past racial discriminatory housing policies and practices in Evanston.” These initiatives are great first stepsOur government must now fully acknowledge its culpability in the institution of enslavement and systemic racism, the resulting harms to the Black community, and make restitution.

 

Join Us in Urging Your Representative to Support H.R. 40: The Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act!

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