According to WBTW, Democratic lawmakers are seeking ways to financially compensate families, descendants and spouses of Black veterans who fought during World War II.
The legislative efforts will benefit spouses and the living offspring of those who were unable to obtain opportunities to build wealth with housing and education through the GI Bill.
Marine veteran and Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) who authored the proposal, presented the initiative to the House last week with House Majority Whip Congressman James Clyburn.
“We all know the GI Bill lifted up a generation of WWII veterans and built the American century. Most Americans don’t know that many Black veterans were left out: denied benefits, denied homes, denied the generational wealth that comes from going to college. We can never fully repay those American heroes. But we can fix this going forward for their families,” Moulton said in a statement.
Clyburn said he wants the bill to help put an end to families' suffering.
"This is an opportunity for America to repair an egregious fault,” he said, according to WBTW.
“Hopefully it can also begin to lay a foundation that will help break the cycle of poverty among those people who are the descendants of those who made sacrifices to preserve this democracy,” he added.
Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), who is the son of a WWII veteran, is slated to launch the legislation to the Senate later this month, The Hill reports.
The GI bill was originally called the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 and was signed into law by then-President Franklin Roosevelt. The purpose was to provide funding for education, housing for first-time home owners and unemployment insurance specifically designed for WWII veterans.
Black soldiers' benefits were subjected to the legalities of local Veteran Affairs Offices during the Jim Crow South era. As a result of the drawback, many weren’t able to claim their rightful interests.
Moulton and Clyburn collaborated on the bill honoring Black veterans Sgts. Joseph Maddox and Isaac Woodward Jr. Maddox was denied assistance from his local VA office after receiving acceptance into the master’s degree program at Harvard University. After being honorably discharged, Woodward was coerced into getting off a bus by a local police chief in Winnsboro, S.C. Woodward, in full uniform, was ferociously assaulted by the officer with a nightstick that left him permanently blind.
“When it came time to pay the bill, the government just said no. It actually is pretty emotional for vets who have gone through this themselves and, like myself, know what a difference the GI Bill made in our lives,” Moulton, who attended Harvard on the shoulders of the GI Bill, said.
Woodward’s assault served as a catalyst for President Truman’s military integration act known as Executive Order 9981. Established on July 26, 1948, the act enabled equality for those serving in Armed Forces and opposed a segregated militia.