WASHINGTON — African-Americans remain disadvantaged by the legacy of slavery, segregation and present-day racism, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker said Wednesday.
“The stain of slavery was not just inked in bloodshed but in the overt state-sponsored policies that fueled white supremacy and racism, and have disadvantaged African-Americans economically for generations,” Booker (N.J.) said at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing.
He added: “Many of the bedrock policies that ushered generations of Americans into the middle-class were designed to exclude African-Americans. From the G.I. Bill, to Social Security — intentionally designed to exclude blacks, as was school segregation.”
The hearing was set up to consider legislation to “establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent 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,” according to the bill’s text.
The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas). Booker is the sponsor of its Senate companion.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday that he opposes reparations.
“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea,” McConnell said.
He added: “We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We elected an African-American president.”
Today’s hearing comes on Juneteenth. The holiday commemorates announcement of the official end of slavery in the U.S., which occurred on June 19, 1865. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier in 1863, but the announcement did not reach the entire country until Juneteenth.