Hakeem Jeffries, likely Pelosi replacement, backs commission to study slavery reparations

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Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the top candidate to replace Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader in the House, has supported legislation to explore the feasibility of reparations to the descendants of enslaved individuals.

Jeffries, DN.Y., is one of nearly 200 co-sponsors of a bill to create a national commission to study and develop proposals for reparations for slavery. The 13-member commission would be tasked with presenting appropriate solutions to the continuing negative impacts of slavery and discrimination in the United States.

“The call for reparations represents a commitment to engage in constructive dialogue about the role of slavery and racism in shaping the current conditions in our community and American society,” said Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat. who drafted the legislation.

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While the bill has not progressed in the Democratic-controlled House since 2019, support has grown in recent years. Jeffries was one of the early supporters of the bill when it was first introduced in 2019.

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“The least we can do is study these historic abuses,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. “That’s the least this Congress can do.”
(Reuters)

At a hearing on the bill last year on the House Judiciary Committee, Jeffries said an inquiry into reparations was the least Congress could do after generations of injustice.

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“We go no further, because after slavery, [there was] Jim Crow and the rise of the KKK,” Jeffries said at the time. And the lynch epidemic. And Plessy against Ferguson. And Black Wall Street was destroyed in 1921.”

Rep.  Hakeem Jeffries is seen as the best candidate to replace Nancy Pelosi as House Democratic leader in the next Congress.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is seen as the best candidate to replace Nancy Pelosi as House Democratic leader in the next Congress.
(Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

“This is a great country, we’ve come a long way, we’ve got a long way to go, we’re not perfect, but we’re marching towards a more perfect union,” Jeffries said. “The least we can do is study these historical abuses. That’s the least this Congress can do.”

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Jeffries announced his bid to succeed Pelosi last week. The 52-year-old New Yorker has received near-universal support for his ascension. His path was further cleared when Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Democrat who chairs the nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, chose not to mount a run herself.

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