At a town hall Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said she would support a “full-blown” congressional discussion about reparations for the descendants of former slaves.
“America was founded on principles of liberty and freedom and on the backs of slave labor,” the 2020 presidential candidate said at the event. “This is a stain on America, and we’re not going to fix that, we’re not going to change that until we address it head on, directly.”
She added: “I believe it’s time to start the national, full-blown conversation about reparations in this country.”
Warren made the remarks at a CNN presidential town hall at Jackson State University in Mississippi. She said she directly supported a House bill that would create a congressional commission to develop proposals for reparations to African-Americans descended from slaves, although Warren failed to directly say if she would support any financial payments at this time.
The bill was first introduced by former Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) in 1989, but Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) reintroduced it in January, according to Politico. The legislation would also “make recommendations concerning any form of apology and compensation to begin the long-delayed process of atonement for slavery,” Jackson Lee said.
Warren first voiced her support for a discussion on reparations last month, saying America needed to “confront the dark history of slavery and government-sanctioned discrimination in this country.” On Monday she addressed generations of inequality, pointing to studies that show vast gulfs in net worth between black families and white families.
“Because of housing discrimination, because of employment discrimination, we live in a world where for the average white family has $100, the average black family has about $5... ,” the senator said. “And that means I support the bill in the House to appoint a congressional panel of experts, people that are studying this, and talk about different ways we may be able to do it and to make a report back to Congress, so that we can as a nation do what’s right and begin to heal.”
Warren is one of a few Democratic candidates who directly endorse the idea of reparations. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has broadly touted the idea, and other candidates, such as former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, have espoused some support. But many others have been wary to take firm positions on the issue.