House hearing on reparations for slavery is set for first time in more than a decade

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A House hearing on reparations for slavery is set for next Wednesday, which marks the first time in more than a decade that a panel will consider slavery's "continuing impact" on the country and the next steps to "restorative justice."

The scheduled hearing held before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties will feature testimonies from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and actor Danny Glover.

The purpose of the panel is said to “examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade."


Former Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan first proposed that Congress study reparations in 1989 after he sponsored a bill, House Resolution 40, that he reintroduced every session until he resigned in 2017.

Democratic Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, the bill’s new sponsor, introduced it earlier this year and pushed for next week’s hearing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she supports a reparations study, which has not been the subject of a hearing since 2007.

The topic of reparations reemerged to national prominence as several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates signaled their support for some form of compensation for the descendants of slaves. None, however, seemed to support compensation in the traditional sense of direct payouts to black Americans.

Instead, candidates have proposed somewhat vague ideas such as using funds to create policies addressing economic inequalities that could disproportionately benefit African-Americans.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.