"Yesterday when I asked about reparations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a familiar reply: America should not be held liable for something that happened 150 years ago since none of us currently alive are responsible," Coates said.
Coates cited pensions for family members of Civil War veterans as a precedent for reparations and said America must function as a collective entity, even when citing the distant past.
"This rebuttal proffers a strange theory of governance that American accounts are somehow bound by the lifetime of its generations. But well into this century, the United States was still paying out pensions to the heirs of Civil War soldiers," Coates said. "We honor treaties that date back some 200 years despite no one being alive who signed those treaties. Many of us would love to be taxed for the things we are solely and individually responsible for. But we are American citizens and thus bound to a collective enterprise that extends beyond our individual and personal reach."
Coates also claimed slavery is what made America an economic giant on the world stage, and accused McConnell of shirking his duties as a government leader.
"When [slavery] ended this country could have extended its hollow principles -- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all, regardless of color. But America had other principles in mind. And so for a century after the Civil War, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror," he said. "A campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell."
"It is tempting to divorce this modern campaign of terror, of plunder -- from enslavement. But the logic of enslavement, of white supremacy, respects no such borders. And the guard of bondage was lustful and begat many heirs," said Coates, who noted that McConnell was born during the Jim Crow era and should be more understanding and empathetic to the plight of African-Americans.
"[McConnell] was alive to witness cleptocracy in his native Alabama and a regime premised on electoral theft. Majority Leader McConnell cited civil rights legislation yesterday, as well he should -- because he was alive to witness the harassment, jailing, and betrayal of those responsible for that legislation by a government sworn to protect them," Coates said.
"He was alive for the redlining of Chicago and the looting of black homeowners of some $4 billion. Victims of their plunder are very much alive today. I am sure they'd love a word with the majority leader. What they know, what this committee must know, is that while emancipation dead-bolted the door against the bandits of America, Jim Crow wedged the windows wide-open."
Coates closed by saying Americans should be tied to the entirety of their history and remain at the mercy of the past.
"That is the thing about Sen. McConnell’s 'something.' It was 150 years ago. And it was right now. The typical black family in this country has one-tenth the wealth of the typical white family. Black women die in childbirth at four times the rate of white women," he declared.
"The matter of reparations is one of making amends and direct redress but it is also a question of citizenship. In HR-40 this body has a chance to both make good on its 2009 apology for enslavement and reject fair weather patriotism -- to so say that nation is both its credits and its debits. That if Thomas Jefferson matters, so does Sally Hemmings. If D-Day matters so does black Wall Street. That if Valley Forge matters so does Fort Pillow. Because the question really is not whether we will be tied to the somethings of our past, but whether we are courageous enough to be tied to the whole of them."
Fox News reached out to McConnell's office for further comment and was directed to the Senate Minority Leader's Tuesday press conference, where he laid out his issues with 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," he said.