Reparations for slavery are taking a tentative step forward.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is scheduled to hold a meeting on June 19 “to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice,” according to the Associated Press.
June 19 was chosen on purpose. It coincides with Juneteenth, the day that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved Black people in America.
In the meeting, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and actor Danny Glover are going to testify.
Democratic politicians have been trying to pass legislation like this for some time, especially former Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, according to NBC News.
Conyers, the longtime sponsor of House Resolution 40, first proposed the measure calling for a study of reparations in 1989. Conyers reintroduced the bill every session until his resignation in 2017.
Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is the resolution’s new sponsor. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in February that she also supports a reparations study. It’s a topic that hasn’t been the subject of a House hearing since 2007.
It was Coates’ 2014 essay that first pushed the topic of reparations back into center stage. He wrote an essay in The Atlantic titled “The Case for Reparations”. Glover is an activist and has acted in movies such as “The Color Purple” and “A Rage in Harlem”.
Some current Democratic presidential candidates have said they support the concept of reparations with policies addressing economic inequality that could disproportionately benefit Black people. But nothing specific has been laid out yet.