Historic Progress on US Slavery Reparations Bill

Human Rights Watch

History was made in the US Congress when the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee voted on April 14, 2021 to move H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, to the House floor for full consideration, Human Rights Watch said today.

H.R. 40 has been introduced at every congressional session since 1989, but this is the first time it has reached a committee vote, a key step toward passing legislation. In response Dreisen Heath, racial justice researcher and advocate at Human Rights Watch, issued the following statement:

“On April 14, the US Congress finally took the kind of action on reparations that movement advocates, experts, and Black people have been advocating for decades. The passage of H.R. 40 out of committee is a victory for every person in the US who knows that healing cannot happen without repair. This milestone moves the nation one step closer to comprehensively reckoning with the disastrous effects of slavery that continue to compound for Black people every day.

“As we grapple with yet another heinous police killing, a pandemic that has only widened racial inequality, and a flurry of new Jim Crow-like voter restrictions, adopting H.R. 40 couldn’t be more urgent. Congress has an opportunity to help build a racially just and equitable future, and to do something concrete about the enduring terror of white supremacy. The House should waste no time in bringing H.R. 40 to a full vote on the floor. The killings of Daunte Wright, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Layleen Polanco, and Tony McDade, and too many other Black people to name, make that clear.”

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