Repair Can’t Wait. Create Reparations Commission Now
History is within reach. Tell President Biden to establish a federal Reparations Commission Now.
The time for the United States to account for its legacy of enslavement is long overdue.
In the November 2020 elections, voters made clear that they wanted their elected leaders to prioritize racial justice. Creating a commission modeled on the bill H.R.40 is one way for President Biden to show that he has.
Black people in the US continue to feel the impacts of enslavement today in the form of structural racism, violence, discrimination and disparities in health, housing, environmental outcomes, education, economics, policing and law enforcement. Mass protests in response to pervasive racial inequality, and the killing of Black people, like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, reflect America's failure to provide redress for this long history of abuse. Psychological and mental harms stemming from enslavement and anti-Black racism persist and require comprehensive remedy. Even amidst battles against truth about the nation's founding, there is a growing understanding that the legacy of slavery can be felt today and that racial discrimination impacts everyone in the country. According to a recent Citi Group study, not addressing the racial wealth gap has cost the US economy up to $16 trillion over the past 20 years.
US House Resolution 40 (H.R. 40) would establish a federal commission to examine the impacts of the legacy of slavery and recommend proposals to provide reparations. The bill does not authorize payments or any other remedies. It creates a commission to study the problem and recommend solutions—a first and necessary step given the variety of ways to remedy specific harms. Like the federal commission that investigated the forced relocation and wrongful incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, the bill can help pave the way for a full and truthful reckoning and accounting for past and present harms.
Thanks to you, in April 2021, the House Judiciary Committee voted for the first time to advance H.R. 40 to the House floor for a vote, and the bill has a record 215 members of Congress committing to vote “yes.” This is far more than ever in its 32-year history. If House leadership got behind H.R. 40 and advanced it, it should pass. But considering dynamics in the US Senate, and timing—there are just a few months left before the end of this 117th Congressional session in January 2023—we are calling on President Biden to work with supporting organizations and House sponsors of H.R. 40 to set up the same commission by executive order. If Biden is serious about making progress on racial justice during his administration, there is no time to waste.
In order for us to build a better, more just future, we need to address and repair the continuing legacy of slavery.
Be a part of history. Tell President Biden to take this modest but essential step toward achieving racial justice and create an H.R. 40-style reparations commission now. This commission would study and develop reparations proposals that could ultimately provide some measure of justice to Black people in the US for enslavement and the continuing injustices stemming from it. By taking the action below, your email will be sent directly to President Biden’s office.