Ta-Nehisi Coates and Danny Glover to Address Congress on Reparations

Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and actor Danny Glover are set to testify on June 19 at a Congressional Hearing on reparations for slavery.The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties announced on June 13 that it will hold a hearing on HR 40, which is also known as the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, according to a statement from the committee.

“The purpose of the hearing is to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice,” the committee wrote. The date of the hearing is significant because it falls on the same day as Juneteenth, which is a cultural holiday that celebrates the emancipation of African Americans who were enslaved in the US, NBC News reported. The Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act was introduced by former Democratic representative John Conyers in 1989. The lawmaker had introduced the bill every session until he resigned in 2017 following sexual harassment allegations, according to the news station.

In 2014, Coates wrote an essay in The Atlantic magazine titled “The Case for Reparations” and ignited a national conversation about the topic. Glover, an activist and actor who has starred in movies such as the Lethal Weapon series and The Color Purple, will also be at the hearing, according to NBC News. Other politicians have also spoken about reparations. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has gained 12 co-sponsors for his bill that also calls for a commission to study reparations, The Root reported. Some of the sponsors include senators Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.). Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). “We cannot address the institutional racism and white supremacy that has economically oppressed African-Americans for generations without first fully documenting the extent of the harms of slavery and its painful legacy,” Booker said in a statement.

“It’s important that we right the wrongs of our nation’s most discriminatory policies, which halted the upward mobility of African-American communities.” Senator Booker first introduced the bill in April as a companion to HR40. Senator Warren, another Democratic presidential hopeful, has discussed issuing reparations if she becomes president. During a CNN town hall in Jackson, Mississippi in March, Warren said that she supported the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.

"I believe it's time to start the national, full-blown conversation about reparations," Warren said at the time, according to CNN. "That means I support the bill in the House to appoint a congressional panel of experts, of people who are studying this, who talk about different ways we may be able to do it, and to make a report back to Congress so that we can as a nation do what's right and begin to heal." Those who wish to view the June 19 hearing can click here for a live stream of the meeting.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.