Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the top candidate to replace Nancy Pelosi as House Democratic leader, supports legislation to study the feasibility of providing reparations to the descendants of enslaved individuals.
Jeffries, D-N.Y., is one of nearly 200 co-sponsors of a bill to create a national commission to study and develop proposals on slavery reparations. The 13-member commission would be tasked with presenting appropriate remedies to the lingering negative effects of slavery and discrimination within the United States.
“The call for reparations represents a commitment to entering a constructive dialogue on the role of slavery and racism in shaping present-day conditions in our community and American society,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat who authored the legislation.
Although the bill has failed to make progress in the Democratic-controlled House since 2019, its support has grown in recent years. Jeffries was one of the bill’s early supporters when it was first introduced in 2019.
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During a hearing on the bill in the House Judiciary Committee last year, Jeffries said a study on reparations was the least that Congress could do after generations of injustice.
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“We’re not going to move on because after slavery, [there was] Jim Crow and the rise of the KKK,” Jeffries said at the time. “And the lynching epidemic. And Plessy v. Ferguson. And Black Wall Street in 1921 destroyed.”
“This is a great country, we’ve come a long way, we still have a long way to go, we’re not perfect, but we’re marching to a more perfect union,” said Jeffries. “The least we can do is study these historic wrongs. That’s the least that this Congress can do.”
Jeffries announced his bid to succeed Pelosi last week. The 52-year-old New Yorker has received nearly universal support for his ascension. His path was further cleared when Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat who chairs the nearly-100 member Congressional Progressive Caucus, opted to not mount a run of her own.