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.

42 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. 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?

  5. 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 […]

  6. 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 !!!!

  7. 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?

  8. lucy Says:

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

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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. […]

  14. 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.

    support – become a member

  15. Cynthia Says:

    The Levittown Story …after World War II black Fathers came home after fighting in a segregated army only to find themselves blocked by an ordinance from purchasing a Levitt home this was the beginning of suburbia the price of a Levitt home was 2,500 This was the beginning of middle class in America and our black families were locked out by an ordinance the homes could not be sold to Blacks. This ordinance was still in place until the late 1960 possibly beyond. Levittown Long Island New York was the first suburb developed in the United States of America. This story was always told in our families and how this impeded our economic development homeownership was critical to our economic advancement and we were not allowed the experience of financial growth

  16. Billie Says:

    Sorry but there is no justification for today's generations to pay for the sins of the distant past in this country. I am all for rich plantation owners who had slaves to pay but they are all dead. Don't blame me for what people did hundreds of years ago because that make you insane and a racist.

  17. Cynthia Says:

    Billie, I understand the way you feel in terms of the sins of the father being passed to the son. What I would like to see happen in our country is the Billie 's of the United States of American to have been taught this American history in elementary school right along with George Washington and the cherry tree. The Levittown story was just one of the stories I could tell. I am the great grand-daughter of Lewis Garnett Jordan born into slavery with no name he took the name of three benefactors who had befriended and helped him. Out of those borrowed names came one of the best preachers and church builders and advocate for justice the race has produced. In 1896, he became the third a Executive Secretary of the Foreign Mission Board. He was a temperance advocate, which won him the respect of the American people, who nominated him for the United States Congress on the Prohibition ticket. There are so many stories like these that have never been told millions of Africans suffered under the yolk of slavery in utter silence. I don't need you to feel guilty I need future generations to know the history. If you want to know what I would like from my government a Declaration of Honor presented to Lewis Garnett Jordan's great great grandchildren for services rendered under the yolk of slavery.

  18. Johnnie Oneworld Says:

    Slaves of all colors were forcefully brought to America and other ports throughout the world. African slaves were captured by powerful African tribes and sold to dealers (Jewish, Arab and Spanish traders) who, in turn, sold slaves to user countries.
    Slaves worked under a harsh shield of forced labor six days a week. Slaves in America lived in slave quarters and were supplied food and clothing. Immigrants were forced out of their homelands due to oppression or worse. They worked every day for pennies that had to pay for food, clothing and shelter for them and their families. Many blacks want to selfishly discount the suffering of others, especially Europeans, because they feel they had it made simply because they were white.
    The point is, all of our ancestors have suffered blood, sweat and tears for America's benefit. Most of these folks were, one way or another, forced here. And when they arrived most, like the Irish and Italians, were met with vile hatred, prejudice and bias.
    The real culprits are: the African tribes who sold black slaves, England for enslaving/forcing folks of all colors and creeds to America, Arab, Jewish and Spanish dealers for funding the slave trade enterprise and all the folks black and white who owned slaves. These are the folks who should pay for their sins.
    It's absolutely absurd to demand reparations from white folks in America simply because they're white. White privilege is a fallacy relative to 95% of white America.

  19. Randy Wilson Says:

    How can we spur action on HR 40?

  20. cynthia Says:

    We are not demanding reparation from white folks in America simply because they’re white.

    International Human Rights Law

    “Between 1817 and 1871 bilateral treaties between Britain and several other countries (eventually including the United States of America) led to the establishment of the international courts for the supression of the slave trade. Though all but forgotten today, these anti-Slavery Courts were the first international human rights courts. They were made up from judges of different countries. They sat on a permanent continuing basis and applied international law. They were explicity aimed at promoting humanitarian objectives.Over the life span of the treaties, the courts heard more than 600 cases and freed almost 80,000 slaves from aboard illegal slave trading vessels. During their peak years of operation, the courts heard cases that may have involved as many as one out of every four or five ships involved in the trans-atlantic slave trade.

    These international anti-slavery courts have been given scant attention by historians and have been almost completely ignored by legal scholars. Most legal scholars view international courts and international human rights law as largely a Post World War II phenomenon with the Nuremberg Trail of the Nazi War Criminals as the seminal moment in the turn to international law as a mechanism for protecting individual rights. But in fact, contrary to the conventional wisdom, the nintieth century slavery abolition movement was the first successful international human rights campaign and international treaties and courts were its central feature.

    An international legal institution that had a direct and tangible impact on 80,000 human lives is far more than a footnote in the history of international law.”

  21. Dorken Macauliffe Says:

    Who exactly is it that these people are suggesting should pay them? The current 2014 American citizenry? My ancestors came from Ireland and Scotland between 1900 and 1910. Now their progeny that are in the US are in the hundreds. All white/caucasion people. Are you somehow suggesting that they (I) owe you something?

  22. Ian Burrow Says:

    I have just read Ta-Neshi Coates' piece on Reparations in the June edition of Atlantic Monthly. I would recommend it to everyone, whatever your viewpoint on this matter. It seems to me that the racial injustice that has been inflicted so disproportionately and for so long on American people of African descent truly remains a shameful cancer eating at the very soul of this country. I came here in the late 1980's (White, educated, Anglo) naively imagining that the Civil Rights movement had dealt with the problems I had been made so aware of in the 1960's. I of course soon discovered how wrong I was. It can, I agree seem, absurd and even unjust to suggest that people like myself should make reparation for actions taken by unrelated Others long ago. However, HR 40, if passed by Congress (and if not then determined unconsitutional by the increasingly strange Supreme Court), would at least enable this tortured matter to be discussed in an orderly and considered manner at the National level.

  23. wwhite boy slimm Says:

    Hr 40 is a joke. Its just another way for blacks to get a handout. We should discuss how all these blacks should pay for the white people who fought for their freedom and political rights. So I see we are even. Plus no black alive has been a slave so it seems ignorant to fight for something they never knew. Plus if this bill ever passed well lets say blacks will actually get to show white people what their made of in another civil war.. last time I remembered whites are the minority of the world. And blacks have a whole continent but never built a city….hmmm wonder why because white people have slaughtered billions even eradicate races. Plus we invent conqure lands and explore. Sso to put things inretrospect. Blacks have it great! Because if it wasnt for whity they would still be wearing gourds on their privates chucking spears at lions and killing themselves.

  24. Segundo Modibo Says:

    In 1944,

    “Although the Jews did not yet have a state and therefore were not subject to international law, Dr. Siegfried Moses argued in a 1944 publication that they were the creditors of a collective claim from Germany based on moral wrongdoings”

    There is a solid, documented record of treatment regarding African Americans within the US from at least the year 1519 through the year 1865, and continuing up to the modern era, of enslavement, torture, brutalizing, lynching, and what could only be described as war crimes and crimes against humanity. No other people in history have experienced such atrocities at the magnitude and for the length of time as those suffered by African Americans. The holocaust of Jewish people at its outer limits lasted from the year 1933 when Adolph Hitler came to power to the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany in the year 1945. The suffering and mass annihilation of the Jewish people at the hands of the Nazis was indeed horrendous. Because of it, West Germany began paying reparations to Israel beginning in the year 1952. More recently, Israel has demanded and received an additional 700 million Euros for some 30,000 surviving Nazi victims. The African American claim against the United States is for a period of approximately 350 years of enslavement, rape, genocide and murder and an additional 100 years of racial subjugation, rape, genocide and murder. Explore this topic further at:

  25. Carol Says:

    There is never any objection to blacks being forced to pay reparations for every other group that has suffered in America, by being taxed. In fact, it is expected of us. I'm in favor of any group that has suffered atrocities and seeks reparation. However, black Americans are a specific group, and we are responsible for our own cause, not any other group.

  26. Thoth God Of Judgment Day Says:

    “Where Death Or Imprisonment Is The Penalty For Resisting Against Oppression, There Is Tyranny!”

    No Race Should Be Subjected To The Government That Began With The Enslavement Of Their Race!

    “No Subjection Without Representation Representation!”

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