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.”
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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.