US Congress To Hold Hearing on Reparations Bill Next Week

H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act
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The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties will hold a hearing on H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, on February 17, 2021.

The 10:00 a.m. ET hearing will examine the legacy of slavery, its continuing impact on the Black community, and the path to reparative justice.

The virtual hearing will stream live here.

Witnesses slated to testify at the hearing include Dreisen Heath, a racial justice researcher and advocate in the US program at Human Rights Watch. In May 2020, Human Rights Watch published Heath’s groundbreaking report that documented the impact of the Tulsa Race Massacre and the systemic racism that followed, and called for reparations.

Other witnesses will include:

  • The Honorable Norman Mineta, Former Secretary of Transportation, U.S. Department of Transportation;
  • The Honorable Dr. Shirley Weber, Secretary of State, State of California;
  • Professor E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights;
  • Kamm Howard, National Male Co-Chair, National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA);
  • Dreisen Heath, Program Advocate, Human Rights Watch;
  • Hilary Shelton, Director, NAACP Washington Bureau;
  • Additional witnesses to be announced

If passed, H.R. 40 would establish an expert federal commission to study the legacy of slavery in the United States and its ongoing harm and develop proposals for redress and repair, including reparations.

The announcement of the hearing comes after more than 300 organizations, businesses, faith leaders, and city leaders – including Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union, Color of Change, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and Amnesty International USA– sent Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House leadership a letter urging immediate congressional action on H.R. 40, as part of the We Can’t Wait project. Following the protests over the killing of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police, the bill garnered a record number of cosponsors.

“The historic racial and gendered injustices of slavery and its legacy, fueling the persistence of racial inequality today, remain largely accounted for,” said Heath. “The US must finally reckon with its long history of racial terror, indifference, and segregationist public policies that have created lasting harms within the Black community. That reckoning begins with H.R. 40.”

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