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The PJ Tatler

Bridget Johnson


January 4, 2013 - 10:04 am

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced two reparations resolutions on the first day of the 113th Congress.

The first, H.R. 40, is “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.”

The second, H.R. 98, is “to provide a remedy for survivors and descendants of the victims of the Tulsa, Oklahoma Race Riot of 1921.”

Neither has been received by the GPO yet for the full text to be available.

Both have been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

But Conyers has introduced reparations bills at the beginning of each Congress — picking the number H.R. 40 to symbolize the “40 acres and a mule” promise made to freed slaves during the Civil War. Such bills have never made it to a floor debate.

H.R. 40 in the 112th Congress would have established a seven-member reparations commission, with three members appointed by the president, three by the speaker of the House, and one by the president pro tempore of the Senate, to come back to Congress after a year with recommendations.

The panel would be tasked with determining “whether, in consideration of the Commission’s findings, any form of compensation to the descendants of African slaves is warranted.”

“If the Commission finds that such compensation is warranted, what should be the amount of compensation, what form of compensation should be awarded, and who should be eligible for such compensation,” last Congress’ resolution read.

Last Congress’ Tulsa act said “every person who, in connection with the Tulsa, Oklahoma race riot of 1921 and its aftermath, acted under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage of the State of Oklahoma to subject, or cause to be subjected, any person to the deprivation, on account of race, of any right secured at the time of the deprivation by Oklahoma law, shall be liable to the party injured in a civil action for redress.”

It had one co-sponsor, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.).

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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