EXCLUSIVE: Black Congressmen Support Idea Of Reparations

Alex Pfeiffer | White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON — Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus told The Daily Caller Monday they would be open to using reparations to solve racial inequities in the United States, but they could not agree on the specifics.

Of the eight members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) TheDC spoke to, five came out in favor of some form of reparations. Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis said he was “personally” in favor of them but he didn’t think they were practical. New York Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Alabama Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop said they couldn’t agree to support anything as they weren’t given specific plans.

The ones that did come out in favor of reparations were not in favor of them in the sense of how it they are seen traditionally — the giving of money to black Americans.

“Usually when one talks about reparations one is thinking in terms of a cash outlay to people to compensate them for something that happened 150 years ago or more, that is not a workable formula,” Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson said. “But there are other forms of compensation that are due and owing to African-Americans in this country.”

These forms of compensation Rep. Johnson was referring to were “funding of education,” “affirmative action in hiring,” “allocation of federal contracts,” “job opportunities,” and “access to capital.”

Texas Democratic Rep. Marc Veasey echoed this sentiment telling TheDC, “I think it has to be in the form of college tuition, job training, home-buyer programs, things that create wealth, generational-wealth, things of that nature.”

New York Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks pointed TheDC to South Carolina Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn’s 10-20-30 Act. This would direct “at least 10 percent of Rural Development investments to communities where 20 percent or more of the population had lived below the poverty line for the last 30 years.”

While District of Columbia Democratic Rep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton was in support of federal programs to help black Americans, she objected to the term “reparations.” “We are only talking about sixty years that we were free from legal institutionalized racism. To deconstruct that maybe we need a new word,” Rep. Holmes-Norton said.

She described the word “reparations” as “ridiculed” and “polarizing.”

Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers has introduced bills multiple times in his tenure to establish a commission to examine proposals for reparations for African-Americans. Mississippi Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson told TheDC he supported each of these bills and that “as an African-American it would be inconsistent for me to be against reparations.”

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