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Fri, 01.06.1989

The First African American Reparations Bill is Brought to Congress

On this date in 1989, House Resolution (H.R.) 40 was brought before the 1st Session of the 105th Congress.

John Conyers, Black Democrat from Michigan, presented it in the House of Representatives, the first formal attempt to obtain reparations to compensate African Americans for slavery since Reconstruction. This act was cited as the “Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.”

Briefly, H.R. 40 read as follows: “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.”

H.R. 40 had eight (8) sections in its full text. The last section (8) appropriated $8,000,000 as the price for finding out the extent of reparations.  In 2021, Evanston, Illinois, and 13 other American cities are passing or considering reparations legislation of their own.

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Historic U.S. Cases 1690-1993:
An Encyclopedia New York
Copyright 1992 Garland Publishing, New York
ISBN 0-8240-4430-4

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