October 22, 2019

Juneteenth and the Quest for Reparations

“For 246 years our laws supported a system that made people slaves, divided families, and treated human beings as property. And for nearly 100 after Reconstruction, that dark legacy continued with Jim Crow laws throughout the country.

African Americans were purposefully deprived of opportunity, the ability to exercise their rights, equal access to education, health care, public facilities and other programs. The civil rights movement of the ’60s made important progress, but discrimination and the long term effects of segregation still linger.

In 2007, my first year in Congress, I introduced — and in 2008, the House passed — a resolution officially apologizing for slavery and Jim Crow. Apologies are a necessary first step, but they alone cannot solve the present inequities born of our nation’s original sin: slavery.
A report by Demos in conjunction with the Institute for Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University found that, in 2011, the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings, while the median black household had only $7,113. This racial disparity is the product of centuries of policies that intentionally excluded and oppressed African Americans. Now we must be just as intentional in our effort to repair the damage and ensure that every American has full access to the opportunity that makes our nation great.”

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