Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act
|Long title||To address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.|
|Announced in||the 117th United States Congress|
|Number of co-sponsors||196|
The Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, is an Act of Congress in the United States introduced in 1989 by Rep. John Conyers. The act aims to create a commission to examine the merits of introducing reparations to African-Americans for US slavery. The current iteration of the act is sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.
Conyers introduced the act in 1989, and successively introduced it in each Congress until his retirement almost 30 years later.
Juneteenth 2019 saw the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties conduct a hearing on this issue, in what was seen as a historic sitting, given the previous reparations discussion in that venue took place in 2007, "one year before the election of the country's first black president".
Rep. Conyers died in October 2019, having sponsored the Act each and every Legislative session from 1989 to 2017. The "40" number refers to "the unfulfilled promise" the United States "made to freed slaves: that after the Civil War, they would get forty acres and a mule".
Cory Booker is sponsor of a companion bill in the Senate. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed support for H.R. 40. Several of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have expressed their support.
In April 2021, the bill cleared committee for the first time in its history, heading to the House floor for markups and a vote.
The bill, first proposed in 1989 by Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (former U.S. Representative for Michigan) calling for the creation of Commission to study and submit a formal report to Congress and the American people with its findings and recommendations on remedies and reparation proposals for African-Americans, as a result of
- the institution of slavery...which included the Federal and State governments which...supported the institution of slavery
- the de jure and de facto discrimination against freed slaves and their descendants from the end of the Civil War to the present...
- the lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery...
- the manner in which textual and digital instructional resources and technologies are being used to deny the inhumanity of slavery and the crime against humanity of people of African descent...
- the role of Northern complicity in the Southern based institution of slavery
- the direct benefits to societal institutions, public and private, including higher education, corporations, religious and associational
- and thus, recommend appropriate ways to educate the American public of the Commission's findings
- and thus, recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the Commission's findings..."
- (a) Findings.—The Congress finds that—
(1) approximately 4,000,000 Africans and their descendants were enslaved in the United States and colonies that became the United States from 1619 to 1865;
(2) the institution of slavery was constitutionally and statutorily sanctioned by the Government of the United States from 1789 through 1865;
(3) the slavery that flourished in the United States constituted an immoral and inhumane deprivation of Africans' life, liberty, African citizenship rights, and cultural heritage, and denied them the fruits of their own labor;
(4) a preponderance of scholarly, legal, community evidentiary documentation and popular culture markers constitute the basis for inquiry into the on-going effects of the institution of slavery and its legacy of persistent systemic structures of discrimination on living African-Americans and society in the United States; and
(5) following the abolition of slavery the United States Government, at the Federal, State, and local level, continued to perpetuate, condone and often profit from practices that continued to brutalize and disadvantage African-Americans, including share cropping, convict leasing, Jim Crow, redlining, unequal education, and disproportionate treatment at the hands of the criminal justice system; and
(6) as a result of the historic and continued discrimination, African-Americans continue to suffer debilitating economic, educational, and health hardships including but not limited to; having nearly 1,000,000 Black people incarcerated; an unemployment rate more than twice the current White unemployment rate; and an average of less than 1⁄16 of the wealth of White families, a disparity which has worsened, not improved over time.
- Purpose.—The purpose of this Act is to establish a commission to study and develop Reparation proposals for African-Americans as a result of—
(1) the institution of slavery, including both the Trans-Atlantic and the domestic "trade" which existed from 1565 in colonial Florida and from 1619 through 1865 within the other colonies that became the United States, and which included the Federal and State governments which constitutionally and statutorily supported the institution of slavery;
(2) the de jure and de facto discrimination against freed slaves and their descendants from the end of the Civil War to the present, including economic, political, educational, and social discrimination;
(3) the lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery and the discrimination described in paragraphs (1) and (2) on living African-Americans and on society in the United States;
(4) the manner in which textual and digital instructional resources and technologies are being used to deny the inhumanity of slavery and the crime against humanity of people of African descent in the United States;
(5) the role of Northern complicity in the Southern based institution of slavery;
(6) the direct benefits to societal institutions, public and private, including higher education, corporations, religious and associational;
(7) and thus, recommend appropriate ways to educate the American public of the Commission's findings;
(8) and thus, recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the Commission's findings on the matters described in paragraphs (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6); and
(9) submit to the Congress the results of such examination, together with such recommendations.
As of May 15, 2022:
|Congress||Short title||Bill number(s)||Date introduced||Sponsor(s)||# of cosponsors||Latest status|
|101st Congress||Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act||H.R. 3745||November 20, 1989||John Conyers
|24||Died in Committee|
|113th Congress||H.R. 40||January 3, 2013||John Conyers
|2||Died in Committee|
|114th Congress||H.R. 40||January 6, 2015||John Conyers
|2||Died in Committee|
|115th Congress||Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act||H.R. 40||January 3, 2017||John Conyers
|35||Died in Committee|
|116th Congress||H.R. 40||January 3, 2019||Sheila Jackson Lee
|173||Died in Committee|
|S. 1083||April 9, 2019||Cory Booker
|20||Died in Committee|
|117th Congress||H.R. 40||January 4, 2021||Sheila Jackson Lee
|196||Referred to Committees of Jurisdiction.|
|S. 40||January 25, 2021||Cory Booker
|22||Referred to Committees of Jurisdiction.|
- John Conyers
- The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America
- Racism in the United States
- Reparations for slavery in the United States
- Branigin, Anne (19 June 2019). "'An Idea Whose Time Has Come': Congress Hears the Case for Reparations on Juneteenth". The Root. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
- Lockhart, P.R. (20 June 2019). "America is having an unprecedented debate about reparations. What comes next?". Vox. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
- Hulett, Sarah (27 October 2019). "John Conyers, Detroiter and former dean of House of Representatives, dead at 90". Michigan Radio. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
- "Reparations and the legacy of Rep. John Conyers". The Final Call. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
- Lillis, Mike; Wong, Scott (4 April 2019). "Reparations bill wins new momentum in Congress". The Hill. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
- H.R.40 - Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act 115th Congress full text, pdf document This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.