UPDATED 10:28 AM — Tuesday, April 9, 2019
The issue of reparations for the descendants of slaves brought into the U.S. from abroad has returned to Congress.
On Monday, Democrat Senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker announced his plans to introduce a Senate proposal to study the topic. However, similar congressional efforts failed to gain traction in past years by other Democrat lawmakers.
The former chairman of the Congressional Black Congress — then-Representative John Coyer — for years made strides to address reparations, but he failed to gain bipartisan support even under the Obama administration.
Back in 2006, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals also took up a case known as Farmer-Paellmann v. Brown & Williamson. The court ultimately ruled against the plaintiff, who sued a number of major banks that allowed slaves to be used as collateral during the Civil Ear when slave owners applied for loans.
“The average sale price of an adult slave was $2,500. The 12,000 slaves owned outright by J.P. Morgan Chase would of had a present value today of a minimum of $850 million based on the actual market value, I hate to use that phrase, of $1.7 million in 1865.” –Bruce Afran, lawyer representing plaintiffs.
It wasn’t until January that a House bill was brought before legislators, echoing the latest demands in Booker’s bill. It has finally made headway in Congress. The resolution, which was reintroduced last year by Texas congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, currently has 35 cosponsors.
However, not all Democrat presidential candidates agree with either measure.
“I believe we have to invest in those communities that have been so hurt by racism,” stated Senator Amy Klocuchar. “It doesn’t have to be a direct pay for each person, but what we can do is invest in those communities, acknowledge what’s happened.”
The issue of reparations is likely to become a major talking point for 2020 presidential hopefuls, who have only vaguely produced proposals on the campaign trail.