Warren Calls for ‘Full-Blown Conversation About Reparations’

Alex Thompson, Politico, March 18, 2019

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In a CNN town hall on Monday night in Jackson, Miss., [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren became the first 2020 presidential candidate serving in the Senate to endorse a House bill that would create a commission to study reparation proposals.

“I love the idea of this congressional commission,” the Massachusetts Democrat said at Jackson State University, a historically black school. “I believe it’s time to start the national, full-blown conversation about reparations.”

The bill, which former Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) first introduced in 1989, was reintroduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) in January. “The commission would also make recommendations concerning any form of apology and compensation to begin the long delayed process of atonement for slavery,” Jackson Lee said earlier this year.

Warren and most other 2020 candidates have cautiously approached the topic of reparations, wary of alienating voters by fully embracing the idea or being dismissive of it. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has endorsed the concept but has not provided details. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) have not endorsed the idea but have said that robust steps must be taken to combat systemic racism.

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Warren’s endorsement of the reparations commission bill was just one part of her broad pitch Monday night to voters of color, especially African-Americans. She called on Mississippi to remove the Confederacy’s stars and bars from its state flag, talked up her housing bill that would give special assistance to formerly redlined communities, and said that white supremacists are as great a national security threat as “any other terrorist group — like ISIS, like al-Qaida.”

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