Black American slaves were promised “40 acres and one mule” by the US government after the Civil War, liberating them in 1865, a promise canceled shortly after it was fulfilled.
In the century and a half since, in the face of racism and persecution, black Americans have appealed for compensation, a view that has offended political leaders and an idea that has stumbled upon considerable opposition along the way.
Now, for the first time in its history, the US government is moving toward solving the problem of compensating the descendants of African slaves.
President Joe Biden at a White House meeting on Tuesday with black US lawmakers extended his support for a research committee How can the United States compensate? descendants of African slaves.
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee said of Biden’s commitment: “We are grateful for that because we are currently doing something history that has never been done.
“What you want the president has to do is say that as we move forward, ”Jackson Lee told reporters at the White House.
There were four million African slaves in America when slavery was abolished after the Civil War.
So the so-called “Jim Crow” law in the southern states deprived the black peasants of their lands and institutionalized segregation and deprivation. There are more than 42 million African-American citizens in the United States.
In 2019, the median net worth of black families amounted to $ 36,000, compared with $ 189,000 for whites, according to U.S. Federal Reserve data. Black men are almost twice as large as whites and are six times more likely to be jailed, according to government statistics.
Compensation for former slaves has been talked about in American politics for decades but there has never been a consensus on what to do. A Reuters / Ipsos poll conducted in June 2020 found that only 20% of adults in the US supported the payment of the descendants of slaves.
Dreisen Heath, a research and advocacy for rights at Human Rights, said: “The United States has never fully or properly calculated the serious human rights abuses of slavery in chattels and Post-liberation racism continues to harm blacks in the United States today. Watch, an NGO.
“If racial equity is achievable, then correction needs to be part of the equation,” she said.
Democrats in the US House of Representatives are moving towards passing a bill to create a committee to research and develop compensation proposals for African Americans. It passed the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 25-17 late Wednesday night.
After the Black Lives Matter protests rocked America in 2020 after the death of George Floyd and face the rise of white nationalismThe establishment of a compensation committee will open a much-needed public dialogue site on the long-term and systemic harm of racism in America, experts say.
“The history of transatlantic slavery has left an indelible mark on the continued presence of racism, racism and the ideologies of racial primacy in the legal, political, social, and economic structures of the United States and emphasize the link between the historical mistakes of slavery and contemporary. injustices, ”E Tendayi Achiume, a law professor at the University of California – LA Law School told a House of Representatives earlier this year.
Achiume, who presented a report to the United Nations General Assembly in 2019, said the scope of future recommendations goes far beyond financial compensation for slave descendants for loss of wealth and colonialism.
“The compensation committee will provide a foundation,” she said, “for a comprehensive calculation of the harms of slavery.”
The House bill would form a 13-member committee appointed by the National Assembly and the president to study the issue of compensation and make national recommendations within a year.
The commission will be given $ 12 million in funding to hire staff, collect data and conduct hearings. Its mission was to document slavery in the United States from the first time black slaves arrived in 1619 until the end of the American Civil War in 1865. It would then evaluate all forms of discrimination. this has followed harm to black Americans since they were granted full US citizenship in 1868.
The recommendations will cover how the US government should apologize about slavery, how U.S. laws and policies continue to negatively affect African-Americans, and how to overcome these injuries.
Proponents say the claims must exceed the financial compensation implied by “40 acres and a mule”.
“We must be fully accomplished,” said Kamm Howard, national co-chair of the National Coalition of Blacks in America.
“Initiatives must be developed to address the negative, cross-generational, mental, emotional, mental and physical effects of the historic trauma of slavery,” Howard said. Crow racism, and racial violence and police terrorism are ongoing.
The act was opposed by US Republicans, who would try to prevent it from reaching Biden’s table by blocking it in the US Senate.
Legal progress has been a long time. The invoice was introduced in every congress since 1989. The approval of the House committee on Wednesday is the first time it has progressed to a full House vote.
“We want to do research. We want hearings. We want to formalize a process where we can make sure we have the right information and we can move towards making our country great ”, Hilary O Shelton, NAACP Washington office director, told the House of Representatives in February.