Reparations are emerging as a front-and-center debate and likely to be a hot topic during the 2020 election.
Black leaders including actor Danny Glover have been outspoken about the need for the U.S. government to pay African Americans reparations for the slave labor of their ancestors.
The conversation was ignited by a stirring essay Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote for The Atlantic, “The Case for Reparations,” in 2014.
On Wednesday, Coates made the case in person in front of Congress. You can [and should] read his complete testimony, courtesy of The New York Times. Presented below are seven especially powerful statements Coates made during his testimony:
It’s impossible to imagine America without the inheritance of slavery.
…for a century after the Civil War, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell.
We grant that Mr. McConnell was not alive for Appomattox. But he was alive for the electrocution of George Stinney. He was alive for the blinding of Isaac Woodard. He was alive to witness kleptocracy in his native Alabama and a regime premised on electoral theft.
…there is, of course, the shame of this land of the free boasting the largest prison population on the planet, of which the descendants of the enslaved make up the largest share.
The matter of reparations is one of making amends and direct redress…
… if Thomas Jefferson matters, so does Sally Hemings. That if D-Day matters, so does Black Wall Street. That if Valley Forge matters, so does Fort Pillow.
…the question really is not whether we’ll be tied to the somethings of our past, but whether we are courageous enough to be tied to the whole of them.