Posted on July 23, 2023

Biden Under Pressure to Act on Reparations as Movement to Make Amends for Slavery Gains Steam

Aaron Kliegman, Fox News, July 20, 2023

President Biden is facing increased pressure to use his authority to either support legislation or unilaterally enact proposals that would advance efforts to give reparations to Black Americans as a way to make amends for slavery and racism.

The campaign for cities and states to pay reparations at a more local level is gaining major momentum as a growing number of communities across the country weigh payment proposals.

Meanwhile, lawmakers at the federal level have introduced their own measures. Most recently, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., introduced a proposal in May to pay $14 trillion to compensate for what she believes are racist government policies that created a wealth gap between White and Black people. Less ambitiously, several Democrats in Congress have backed a bill establishing a commission to study and develop reparations proposals for lawmakers to consider implementing.

However, Biden has largely been silent about such initiatives, leading to frustration among pro-reparations activists and some Democrats in Congress — especially amid great energy at the state and local levels to advance such measures.

“Activists have been pressing the Biden administration to use his executive authority to immediately establish a federal reparations commission given the deliberate stalling at the congressional level,” Dreisen Heath, an expert and leading reparations activist, recently told Fox News Digital.

Racial justice groups and some Democrats have been pushing Biden for years to establish a national reparations commission by executive order — so far to no avail.

“We ask with no apologies for an executive order to be in place,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, said in December. “I want for once an acceptance of the history, of the journey that African Americans have taken, to be an accepted reality in America.”

Months later, the National Council of Churches USA, Faith for Black Lives, and more than 200 faith leaders from across the country issued a letter to Biden calling on him to establish a reparations commission by executive order on or before the Juneteenth holiday on une 19, 2023.

Just days after the letter, civil rights leaders gathered outside a historic church in Selma, Alabama, to urge Biden to sign an executive order to study reparations for Black Americans.

Descendants of slaves have also slammed Biden for not acting on reparations.

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment for this story to clarify Biden’s position on reparations. However, the White House has previously indicated Biden, who’s largely been quiet about the issue, supports studying potential reparations for Black Americans but has stopped short of saying he’d back a bill introduced in Congress that would create such a commission.

Last month, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre repeatedly dodged a question concerning whether Biden would support financial reparations being paid to the descendants of Black slaves in the U.S.

In March, Jean-Pierre similarly failed to answer a question about whether Biden supports slavery reparations at a national level.

Pressure on Biden and the White House to act will likely mount as a growing number of localities add their names to the list of those actively pursuing reparations.

The latest example is Ann Arbor, home of the sprawling University of Michigan. Local outlet obtained emails from city council members revealing they’ve been considering reparations for several months.

“As I previously shared with you, one of my main priorities on council has been to start a task force to help the city identify how we can pay reparations to our Black community,” one council member wrote in a Jan. 23 email to a University of Michigan social work professor.