WASHINGTON—U.S. REP. John Conyers Jr. said he will re-introduce in the 113th Congress legislation that calls for a seven member commission to study reparations for Black people in the United States.
“It is the most impor- tant piece of legislation I have ever in- troduced, and I will re-intro- duce HR40 in the 113th Congress,” Cony- ers (D., Mich.) told the 400 attendees at the “Revitalizing The Reparations Movement” conference ear- lier this month at Chicago State University. The 113th Congress first met Jan. 3, 2013.
He made his comments in the wake of 14 Caribbean nations demanding reparations and apology from Britain and other Eu- ropean countries for the trans-Atlantic slave trade. If the countries fail to ne- gotiate with the Caribbean nations, they will sue them in the World Court, which is located in The Hague, The Netherlands. Thus far, Sweden is the only country that has indicated a will- ingness to negotiate reparations.
Conyers said the ac- tions by the Caribbean nations will revitalize the reparations movement in the United States. “I think it is going to be a spring- board for reparations,”he said.
Conyers first introduced the legislation, titled “Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act,” in 1989 during the 101th Congress. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, where Conyers is the ranking member.
The eight-page piece of legislation, which was co-introduced by U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D., Va.), said the 4 million Africans and their descendants were en- slaved in the United States and colonies that became the United States from 1619 to 1865. The government sanctioned slavery from 1789 through 1865, enabling it to flourish. At the same time, it deprived Africans of life, liberty, citizenship rights, and their cultural heritage. In addition, slavery denied them the fruits of their own labor.
The Commission to Study Reparation Propos- als for African Americans Act would study the lin- gering negative effects of slavery and discrimination and recommend appropri- ate remedies in consider- ation of the Commission’s findings. In addition, the Commission would exam- ine defacto discrimination against freed slaves and their descendants from the end of the Civil War to the present, including economic, political, and social discrimination.
The Commission will hold hearings and submit a written report.
Conyers said he wants to hold hearings in Wash- ington, D.C., about repa- rations for African Americans.
“If the Republican Congress blocks the hearings, I will hold them throughout the country,” he said.