Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota is making headlines after announcing his bid for chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Ellison already has strong support from Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Harry Reid. Some have said Ellison’s own identity as an African-American and a Muslim would be a strong statement for the Democratic Party under the upcoming Donald Trump administration.
He previously advocated for, and is reportedly a “passionate supporter” of H.R. 40: Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, co-sponsored by Michigan Rep. John Coyners Jr.
The bill describes its intent:
“To acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery, subsequently 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, and for other purposes.”
In an interview with NewsOne Ellison gave several years ago, he expanded on his support for the bill.
“Yes, I think we need to study reparations. When there’s injury there should be redress, right?” Ellison said. “We have to go through the work to figure out what reparations is, that’s what I’m arguing for. I think it would be an important journey for our nation. Bottom line: We’re all Americans today, but you can’t heal a dirty wound, you have to clean it out first.”
He wavered on the idea of direct cash payments as reparations, “It’s a basic concept of justice, but some people automatically leap to the conclusion that the only legitimate form of redress is direct cash payments, and that might not necessarily be the case. I’m not saying that, that isn’t the right way, but it needs to be studied.”
Later in the interview, Ellison again expressed uncertainty on his support of cash payments for African-Americans. “Well, even that needs to be studied, because is that the best way? Is that the best way for redress to occur? We are talking about a multi-generational injury.”
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