Anyone else tired of waiting for their 40 acres and a mule?
While Holocaust victims, survivors of Japanese internment and other victims of genocide or injustice have been compensated for the unspeakable horrors they endured, America built a multi-billion dollar economy by brutalizing our ancestors and somehow refuses to cut the check.
The subject has become a hot topic among Democratic presidential candidates, with former vice president Joe Biden remaining noncommittal, Julián Castro arguing, “I’ve said that if we compensate people under our Constitution if we take their property, why wouldn’t you compensate people who actually were considered property?” and Cory Booker telling The Root, “I support reparations. I support economically designed programs with race as a conscious part of them that balance the scales and address past ills.”
On Juneteenth, the House will listen to testimony on the subject of slavery reparations for the first time since 2007. And NBC News reports that actor and activist Danny Glover will be testifying during the hearing along with arguably the greatest essayist of our time, Ta-Nehisi Coates—the mastermind behind the seminal essay “The Case for Reparations” that propelled the subject back into the national conversation.
The purpose of the hearing, which will be in front of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, is to “to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice.”
The date of the hearing is not coincidental.
Juneteenth—or June 19 for those of us suffering from acute melanin deficiencies—is a cultural holiday that commemorates the dissolution of slavery in the United States. The food, fun and fellowship are real, and white linen is encouraged but not required.
Former Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan deserves all the credit for sowing the seeds for what could end up being a historic moment. He initially proposed the House Resolution 40 bill in 1989, which calls for a study of reparations, and presented it at every session until he stepped down in 2017.
Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee took over as the measure’s new sponsor and pushed for the hearing that will finally be going down next Wednesday.
So get your popcorn ready. This gon’ be good.