Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) is sponsoring house bill H.R. 40, which will establish a commission to study and consider a national apology, and proposal for reparations, in the institution of slavery.
According to a report published in Newsweek, reparations could cost anywhere between $5.9 trillion and $14.2 trillion when calculating hours worked among men, women, and children, from 1776 to 1865. The figure was determined by a calculation that included multiplying hours labored during this period, to average wages at the time, along with a compounding interest rate of three percent each year to adequately measure inflation.
Lee said the commission would look into "the impact of slavery and continuing discrimination against African-Americans," and make recommendations for "compensation, to begin the long-delayed process of atonement for slavery.”
Lee is not the only legislator joining the conversation on reparations.
"I’m serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures, and make real investments in black communities," Harris said in a statement to The New York Times.
Despite the election of the first black president, Barack Obama, Lee stressed there was much change to be done.
"The legacy of slavery lingers heavily in this nation, [and] its continuing economic implications remain largely ignored by mainstream analysis," Lee said in a press release. "Through legislation, resolutions, news, and litigation, we are moving closer to making more strides in the movement toward reparations."
The release goes on to say a "constructive dialogue" on racial injustice is required to discuss the link between economic stresses and the root cause of issues affecting African-Americans; such as education, healthcare, and criminal justice policy and policing.
"With the overcriminalization and policing of black bodies [as] a reoccurring issue in African-American communities, I believe this conversation is both relevant and crucial to restoring trust in governmental institutions," Lee said. "As in years past, I welcome open and constructive discourse on H.R. 40, and the creation of this commission in the 116th Congress."
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