The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is holding a hearing on Wednesday to discuss H.R. 40, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s bill entitled “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.”

The text of the bill states: 

To address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.

The bill includes findings the commission would study:

(1) Approximately 4,000,000 Africans and their descendants were enslaved in the United States and colonies that became the United States from 1619 to 1865;

(2) The institution of slavery was constitutionally and statutorily sanctioned by the Government of the United States from 1789 through 1865;

(3) The slavery that flourished in the United States constituted an immoral and inhumane deprivation of Africans’ life, liberty, African citizenship rights, and cultural heritage, and denied them the fruits of their own labor;

(4) A preponderance of scholarly, legal, community evidentiary documentation and popular culture markers constitute the basis for inquiry into the on-going effects of the institution of slavery and its legacy of persistent systemic structures of discrimination on living African-Americans and society in the United States; and

(5) Following the abolition of slavery the United States Government, at the Federal, State, and local level, continued to perpetuate, condone and often profit from practices that continued to brutalize and disadvantage African-Americans, including sharecropping, convict leasing, Jim Crow, redlining, unequal education, and disproportionate treatment at the hands of the criminal justice system; and

(6) As a result of the historic and continued discrimination, African-Americans continue to suffer debilitating economic, educational, and health hardships including but not limited to having nearly 1,000,000 black people incarcerated; an unemployment rate more than twice the current white unemployment rate; and an average of less than 1⁄16 of the wealth of white families, a disparity which has worsened, not improved over time.

The list of witnesses includes presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and actor Danny Glover.

Other witnesses set to testify at the hearing at 10 a.m. EST are: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Distinguished Writer in Residence, Arthur J. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University; Katrina Browne, documentarian, Traces of the Trade; Coleman Hughes Writer, Quilette;v Burgess Owens, speaker and writer; Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, Episcopal Bishop of Maryland, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, economist and political commentator; and Eric Miller, professor of law, Loyola Law School, Loyola Marymount University.

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