Posted on June 19, 2019

Sen. Cory Booker Call for Slavery Reparations amid Juneteenth Day Celebrations

WLNY-TV, June 19, 2019

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and actor Danny Glover testified Wednesday before a House panel hearing on reparations for slavery, bringing a political issue from the campaign trail to the front and center on Capitol Hill.

The House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties will hear from the three as it considers legislation that would establish a commission to study the consequences and impacts of slavery and make recommendations for reparations proposals.

The measure, HR 40, is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and was first introduced decades ago by former Rep. John Conyers. Booker introduced a companion version of the bill to the Senate in April.

Booker, the first witness to speak, told the committee that America has not yet grappled with racism and white supremacy and that the hearing presents a “historic opportunity to break the silence, to speak to the ugly past and talking constructively about how we will move this nation forward.”

“It’s about time we find the common ground and the common purpose to deal with the ugly past and make sure that generations ahead do not have to continue to mark disparities,” Booker said on Wednesday.


At a conference in April hosted by Rev. Al Sharpton’s political organization, several of the top-tier 2020 Democratic presidential contenders said they would support the House bill. The issue of reparations, which was kept on the fringes of mainstream political debate for decades, has emerged in the 2020 primary as a litmus test for Democrats vying to unseat President Donald Trump.


“Do I support legislation that is race-conscious about balancing the economic scales? Not only do I support it, but I have legislation that actually does it,” Booker told CNN’s Jake Tapper during a CNN town hall in Orangeburg, South Carolina, in late March.

The House committee hearing falls on Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day, which celebrates the end of slavery.


Coates put a spotlight on the subject with his 2014 piece in The Atlantic titled “The Case for Reparations.”

About Juneteenth Day

On this day in 1865 — commemorated now as Juneteenth — news of emancipation reached the enslaved people of Texas. The complete abolition of slavery, which became irrevocable later that year with the ratification of the 13th Amendment, meant the end of involuntary servitude and the beatings, assaults and torture that often accompanied it.


Juneteenth is the oldest known US celebration of the end of slavery. African-Americans and others mark the anniversary much like the Fourth of July, with parties, picnics and gatherings with family and friends. {snip}