Senator Booker Introduces Slavery Reparations Bill To The Senate

"This bill is a way of addressing head-on the persistence of racism, white supremacy and implicit racial bias in our country," Booker said.

Cory Booker
Photo Credit: Getty Images

| April 09 2019,

6:50 pm

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has announced his introduction of a new bill calling for a study into the impact of slavery in America to commission reparations for African Americans.

According to a press release sent to Blavity on Monday, the bill will be filed as a companion to H.R. 40, a reparations bill filed by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) a month ago. Lee's proposal was created to establish a national apology as well as propose reparations for the institution of slavery, as Blavity previously reported.

Booker's bill would move the cause a bit further, commissioning a congressional team to research the impact of slavery economically and will reportedly result in a recommendation for ways in which reparations could be disbursed among descendants of enslaved persons.

“Since slavery in this country, we have had overt policies fueled by white supremacy and racism that have oppressed African-Americans economically for generations,” Booker said in his statement. “Many of our bedrock domestic policies that have ushered millions of Americans into the middle class have systematically excluded Blacks through practices like GI Bill discrimination and redlining. This bill is a way of addressing head-on the persistence of racism, white supremacy and implicit racial bias in our country."

"[The bill] will bring together the best minds to study the issue and propose solutions that will finally begin to right the economic scales of past harms and make sure we are a country where all dignity and humanity is affirmed," he continued. 


Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said she is proud to have Booker as an ally in the fight for reparations, stating that the legislation has been overdue for nearly three decades.

“Since the initial introduction of this legislation in 1989, the importance of examining the institution of slavery in the United States has been recognized across a broad range of our society,” Lee stated. “I am pleased that Senator Booker has introduced a Senate Companion to H.R. 40.  I salute his dedication to elevating the discussion of reparations and reparatory justice, and look forward to the dialogue that this issue engenders on and off Capitol Hill.”

CNN reports the 2020 presidential hopeful is looking to make reparations a key component of his campaign. 

In a recent town hall in South Carolina, the congressman expressed his concerns that the economic issue was "being reduced to a box to check on a presidential list, when this is so much more of a serious conversation."

Additionally, before promoting the idea for the commission, he stated his own belief that "baby bonds" created by the government for African American children would be a substantial way in alleviating the increasing wealth gap. The idea, studied and concluded by Columbia University, suggests that African American newborns receive a savings account that continuously accrues money and receives annual deposits from the government, based on the family's income to bestow upon the child by the time they're of-age to receive.

Other 2020 presidential candidates stated just last week that they would support the bill.

In conversation with National Action Network's Rev. Al Sharpton, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (D), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and former Texas Representative Beto O'Rourke said they would stand in support of Lee and Booker to pass the legislation.

O'Rourke and Sanders' new stance swayed from previous statements at the predominantly Black event, however. Politico reports O'Rourke said in Iowa last month that he didn't believe in traditional reparations for Black Americans, and Sanders stated on The Breakfast Club radio show that he didn't believe in "writing a check" for the purpose. 

The bill has not yet been filed but is expected to proceed this week.

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