Rep. Cori Bush Says $14 Trillion Remedies Bill Will ‘Eliminate Racial Wealth Gap’

For the first time, the long history of the enslavement of Africans, post-Jim Crow discrimination and other racially charged matters has been written into the archives of Congress – and repairing the lasting damage caused by these institutions will a high price, according to a Democratic lawmaker.

In 23-page legislation introduced Thursday, Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., called on Congress to pass several measures aimed at righting historic wrongs, including urging the federal government to provide federal reparations to Black Americans and to other restorative justice efforts. A minimum of $14 trillion would be needed “to eliminate the racial wealth gap that currently exists between black and white Americans,” the resolution states.

“The United States has a moral and legal obligation to provide reparations for the enslavement of Africans and its lasting damage to the lives of millions of black people in the United States,” says HR 414.

Representative Cori Bush speaks during a press conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on April 27, 2023.

Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters, FILE

On Wednesday, Eric Miller, one of the lawyers for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, joined her at the press conference. The Greenwood district of Tulsa, known as “Black Wall Street”, was reduced to ashes by white mobs on May 31, 1921. The last survivors of the massacre filed a lawsuit suing the city of Tulsa and the local government entities and will find out within days whether or not their legal action can proceed.

“There’s a tremendous amount of history that hasn’t been uncovered,” Miller told ABC News.

“We want to have the opportunity to paint the picture, just as Congressman Bush paints exactly what happened,” he added, noting that he wanted “to expose [the] names” of the “hundreds of photos of people involved in the massacre”.

The resolution also calls for renewed momentum at state and local levels.

The Missouri congresswoman told ABC News she was one of approximately 40 million people in the United States who are descendants of enslaved Africans – and argued in her resolution that the federal government “must compensate the descendants of enslaved black and people of African descent in the United States to account for the harms of chattel slavery, the cumulative harms of slavery, and eras of legal and de facto segregation.”

PHOTO: Black smoke billows from fires during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, in the Greenwood District, Tulsa, Oklahoma, June 1921.

Black smoke billows from fires during the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, in the Greenwood District, Tulsa, Oklahoma, June 1921.

History/Corbis via Getty Images, FILE

The resolution explores the history of enslaved Africans since 1565 and notes that many of the first presidents of the United States enslaved black people. Standing outside the Capitol, Bush told ABC News his resolution doesn’t shy away from the history of the nation’s capital, saying the White House and the Capitol were both built with the labor of enslaved black people.

The United States benefited from more than 222 million hours of forced labor, the equivalent of about $97 trillion in labor, between 1619 and 1865 during the end of slavery, the resolution estimates. But unlike white slavers, Bush notes, “those who were stripped of their dignity and made to work without compensation, they weren’t reimbursed.”

While Bush’s bill focuses on reparations, it also takes aim at modern political topics, blaming states for their restrictions on “teaching how racism has shaped the law and way of life in the states.” States” and arguing that current disparities stem from historical inequalities.

“The reason the United States is where it is economically is because of slavery,” Bush told ABC News.

His effort follows a similar bill from Rep. Barbara Lee, D-California, reintroduced Thursday, which called for the creation of the “United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation.” This bill, Lee said, would create a “Commission [that] will examine the effects of slavery, institutional racism and discrimination against people of color, and how our history impacts laws and policies today.”

The Bush and Lee bills are intended to be companions to HR 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Remedial Proposals for African Americans. This bill is named after a promise made shortly after the end of the Civil War in which Union leaders promised formerly enslaved families “40 acres and a mule” – a promise that never came to pass. been held. HR 40, has been introduced in every legislative session since 1989.

The age-old promise languished in Congress for decades until HR 40 rolled out of the House Judiciary Committee in 2021. It hasn’t been voted on in the House or Senate since.

The resolution is unlikely to come to a vote in the Republican-led House, and GOP members have called the proposal “shameful.”

“As American families from all walks of life grapple with rising prices, border chaos, rampant crime, a flood of fentanyl and record debt, that’s what House Democrats are focused on,” said said Rep. Tom Tiffany, R-Wis., tweeted Friday of Bush’s resolution. “It is shameful.”

Although the proposal is unlikely to get a vote in Congress, Bush told ABC News that she hopes her bill will help build momentum for other redress efforts, especially those at the state and local levels. .

ABC News

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