Rep. John Conyers re-introduces H.R. 40 on reparations for slavery and discrimination

Posted January 4th, 2013 by
Category: Repair and reparations Tags: , , ,

Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.) has re-introduced legislation before the 113th U.S. Congress to acknowledge slavery and racial discrimination, study their impact, and propose remedies.

H.R. 40, numbered in recognition of the unfulfilled promise to freed slaves of “40 acres and a mule,” has been introduced by Rep. Conyers at the start of every Congress since 1989. The bill bears the following formal title, as it has in previous years:

To acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery, subsequently de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.

If the past is any guide, the short title of H.R. 40 is likely to be, “Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.”

H.R. 40 has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration. Rep. Conyers is the ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee, and chaired the committee the last time there was a Democratic majority in the House.

Rep. Conyers introduced the previous version of H.R. 40 at the start of the 112th Congress two years ago. It was also referred to the House Judiciary Committee, which referred it to the Subcommittee on the Constitution, where it languished until the 112th Congress expired this week.

We were honored to have Rep. Conyers speak at a press conference before the world premiere of our documentary, Traces of the Trade, at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008, to highlight the importance of understanding the nation’s complicity in slavery and discrimination in order to make progress towards racial healing and justice.


19 Responses to “Rep. John Conyers re-introduces H.R. 40 on reparations for slavery and discrimination”

  1. Ifraj Schkoor Says:

    Some have said "Why hasn't he retired?"…..maybe THIS IS WHY!!

  2. Julie Siestreem Says:

    Thank you Rep.John Conyers for standing firm to see
    H.R.40 follows through with the imperative actions we need.

  3. Tracing Center | Reparations for the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 Says:

    [...] for the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 Rep. John Conyers re-introduces H.R. 40 on reparations for slavery and discrimination The Emancipation Proclamation’s 150th anniversary in context Katrina Browne on being [...]

  4. James DeWolf Perry Says:

    Kevin, I think it's important to understand that Rep. Conyers isn't necessarily asking for financial payments to the descendants of slaves. He's acknowledging a basic truth, that the history of slavery in this country has profound social, economic, and political ramifications today, and is asking for those "living consequences" to be studied and possible solutions examined.

    In other words, this isn't about remaining mired in the past, but the exact opposite: acknowledging this "abhorrent" history, as you put it, and finally addressing its consequences so that we can all move forward together, as one people.

  5. Kevin Abreu Says:

    Poor soul stuck in the past. A people or an individual cannot move forward if mired in the past. How exactly would the reparations be given or determined? There were slaves from non African countries also. Do these slaves not get reparations? While openly acknowledging that the business of slavery was abhorrent, are not the blacks in the US today better off than their present day ancestors in Africa? Aren't all US citizens from every origin, better off than their ancestors?

  6. Britain Comes Clean on Slave Fortunes » The Greanville Post —Vol. VII- 2013 Says:

    [...] Rep. John Conyers has a bill before the House, HR 40, that would “establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery, subsequently de jure [...]

  7. TheFunk Says:

    Let him study the effects of Negro liberalis — welfare, crime, family breakdown — on blacks today.

    Oh right, he's not interested in that….its been his political agenda since the 1960's !!!!

  8. Cody FIre Says:

    He's asking for $9,000 a person… he's a snake in the grass

  9. James DeWolf Perry Says:

    Cody, where did you hear that Rep. Conyers wants payments of $9,000 per person, and why does that make him a "snake in the grass"? His bill, for instance, doesn't ask for financial payments to anyone, but simply asks for a study of the issue, with all options on the table.

  10. Melene brown Says:

    I always shake my head in disgust when people leave comments like ” get over it”, or ”leave what’s in the past in the past”. why is it that African Americans on a whole have to forget? Jewish people raise their children to ”never forget the holocaust, so why do we have to forget slavery. The effects were apparent even while my grandfather fought to free the jews during WWII, against the Nazi’s and while he was called a ”nigger” in his own country he was freeing jews from the reign of Hitler. I honestly dont understand the gaul of some people. I will not stand idly by, my forefathers helped build these United States Of America FOR FREE! On my mom’s side and on my dad’s. My People suffered, aren’t we at the least owed what other nations have already received and what we were promised by our Country eons ago and never received?

  11. lucy Says:

    The United States owes us and until we are financially compensated there will be no justice.

  12. guest Says:

    Personally, I believe that a good portion of the US southern states should be set aside for black Americans. What is so difficult about black people in this country being truly free? Why are white Americans so afraid of this?

  13. Yalonda Says:

    It wont change the past, but we are all taught young,that they hung ,raped african descendants physically and mentally. We still have lost our identities, and forever live with slave names and hate crimes. maybe a debt could make them realize what happen still keeps african americans opressed. Truth told the hate for black skin has not left, it only changed.

  14. Thomas Says:

    If we pay them will they leave? Slavery brought the negroes to America without it they would still be barefoot and starving in Africa. Their ancestors suffered but the descendents have reaped great benefits. They have already been given to much they didn't have to work for.

  15. James DeWolf Perry Says:

    Thomas, if it weren't for slavery, you, too, would have a much lower standard of living. That's a simple historical fact, based on how much the U.S. economy depended on slave labor for its development, and especially for its ability to industrialize, rather than become trapped in the same economics of resource extraction and agricultural production that still keeps living standards relatively low in Africa and throughout the developing world.

    Perhaps, instead of viewing your fellow citizens as "them" and as people who (unlike you, apparently) ought to be perpetually grateful not to be living elsewhere, you could see them as Americans who have at least as much claim on this country, its history, and its successes as you or anyone else. You acknowledge that their ancestors did not come here by choice, and were brutally exploited, to the lasting benefit of the white majority. In the 150 years since slavery ended, however, black families have continued to suffer constant, and often deadly, racial discrimination. While conditions have improved in some ways in recent decades, this basic circumstance has not ended, and the idea that black Americans have somehow been given more than white Americans is simply based on misinformation.

  16. Thomas Says:

    If instead of feeling owed the negroes would take the jobs that they are qualified for that are available they could earn their living and work their way up as every other group has. Compare the unemployment numbers of Negroes vs Mexicans. The Mexicans maybe swam a river, walked across a desert, can't speak the language and yet they find work to support themselves.

  17. James DeWolf Perry Says:

    Thomas, the unemployment rate is very high, and the black unemployment rate (those who are actively looking for work and unable to find it) is about double the white unemployment rate. Research also consistently shows widespread racial discrimination in employment in this country. So I don't think it helps to assume that the jobs must be there, or that black Americans aren't willing to take them — much less that black Americans must be less qualified than other groups.

    It's also a myth that other groups in this country's history have worked their way up on their own. Take white families in this country, for instance. For all the hard work that white workers have put into getting ahead, white families have also benefited enormously from, among other things, slave labor. (This is true of white families both before and after the end of slavery itself.) And the 20th century saw massive federal aid programs for working-class and middle-class white families, from which black families were systematically excluded. Those programs were essential to building what we now consider the nation's middle class; it simply wasn't done through individual hard work alone.

    As for your example of Mexican immigrants, I agree with you that someone who fought hard just to get here is, almost by definition, willing to endure a great deal in order to get ahead. But the same thing is true of many black Americans, despite the legacy of slavery today. You seem to assume, however, that many black citizens don't bother to take jobs that are available to them, and that Mexican immigrants have no trouble finding work. The unemployment statistics tell a very different story.

  18. University Study Puts A Face On The Modern-Day, Lingering Effects of Transatlantic Slavery | North American Reparations Taskforce Says:

    […] Most people think that to get the United States to begin honoring its reparations obligations for Transatlantic Slavery, Blacks need to wait years and years for the U.S. Congress to institute legislation to study the effects of slavery. […]

  19. Pehty Re Says:

    Whats silly to me is how White people think they did Africans a favor by kidnapping us from Africa. This is crazy and unintelligent talk. Africa was a rich powerful place to live during the so called middle ages for white people. Africa did not fall until white colonial powers began to invade and exploit dissension among African nations.What people see today in Africa is a result of colonial powers exploration of Africa. This sad miss information about Africa's history is why im working on the First ever African Reference Encyclopedia {} that will tell the true story of Africa and its peoples achievements to the world.

    Also if Africa was so poor and backwards why is the African ruler of the 14th century Mansa Musa listed as the riches human of all times. Not that i agree with him being listed because it could make people think that he exploited his people when he did no such thing.

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