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House Panel Debates Reparations – The New York Times

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House Panel Debates Reparations

Lawmakers debated a bill on Wednesday that would establish a commission to study the persisting impacts of slavery and develop a proposal for remedies.

I’m a product of that evil practice: My great-great grandfather Silas arrived here in the belly of a slave ship, sold to the Burgess plantation, escaped to the Underground Railroad and died a successful entrepreneur. Built the first Black church elementary, purchased 102 acres of farmland that he paid off in two years. Second, reparations is not the way to right our country’s wrong. What I propose later will be more, more lasting. Third, it is impractical and a non-starter for the United States government to pay reparations. It is also unfair and heartless to give Black Americans the hope that this is a reality. The reality is that Black American history is not one of a hapless, hopeless race oppressed by a more powerful white race. Is there a history of millions of middle- and wealthy-class Black Americans throughout the early-20th century achieving the American dream? Mr. Owens has eloquently spoken of the overcomers. We’re successful. We believe in determination, and we believe in overcoming the many bad balls that we have been thrown. We’ve caught them. And we’ve kept on going. That is not the point of H.R. 40, the commission to study and develop reparation proposals for African-Americans. For hidden in the corners of this nation are those of African-American heritage, the descendants of enslaved Africans, who have felt the sting of disparities. They continue to feel that sting. Now, more than ever, the facts and circumstances facing our nation demonstrate the importance of H.R. 40 and the necessity of placing our nation on the path to reparative justice.

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