Democrats Hold Hearing On Reparations Bill Following Trump's Acquittal

On Wednesday (February 17), Democratic leaders of the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on H.R. 40, the bill that would commission a study on the impact of slavery on Black Americans and initiate the process for reparations. 

The hearing was held in part as a timely response to the violence at the Capitol on January 6 and the subsequent acquittal of Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial. 

Trump’s crusade to overturn election results targeted Black voters who turned out in record numbers in November. His actions and the actions of his supporters at the Capitol was a stark and timely reminder for the necessity to evaluate what Black people endure in the United States. 

The hearing, entitled “Exploring the Pathway to Reparative Justice in America,” included testimony from H.R. 40’s sponsor Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who said rioters “brandished symbols of division and intolerance that echo back to the darkest periods of our nation’s history.”

According to the Huffington Post, Rep. Jackson Lee added, “Clearly, we require reckoning to restore national balance and unity.” She became the bill’s sponsor after the late Rep. John Conyers resigned in 2017. Rep. Conyers had introduced the bill repeatedly for 30 years. 

“This moment of national reckoning comes at a time when our nation must find constructive ways to confront the rising tide of racial and ethnic division,” House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler said during the hearing. “On January 6, we say the ugly confluence of such divisions as white nationalist groups appeared to be among those playing a central role in the violent assault on the United States Capitol.” 

The hearing heard from both naysayers and supporters of reparations as a means to begin to rectify the past. 

California’s Secretary of State Shirley Weber testified, sharing her state’s plan to commission a similar study through their Assembly Bill 3121. “We need not ask whether or not slavery has had an impact, but instead illuminate the extent to which it has had an impact,” Weber stated. 

The road to reparations for African Americans is ongoing.

Photo: Getty Images 

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