America needs a history lesson
June 19, 2019
Today is June 19th, also known as Juneteenth, or Freedom Day. This day commemorates June 19th, 1865—the day the abolition of slavery was announced. It's also a vivid reminder that America has an ugly history.
Countless people killed. Families ripped apart. Humanity taken away.
I’m not talking about the president's immigration policies (although, in my opinion, that description would also fit the bill). This is just a small part of the devastation of American colonialism, racism, and slavery.
Slavery and its vestiges still affect African American communities to this day. The horrors of our past have created systems under which African Americans remain at a severe disadvantage. We see these systemic barriers in education, health care, criminal justice and policing—just to name a few. There is not one fix to repair the brutal history of slavery, but there is ample opportunity to make improvements now and for the future.
The institution of slavery was constitutionally and statutorily sanctioned by the United States Government for nearly 100 years, yet we have never entered a constructive dialogue on the role of slavery and racism in shaping present day conditions in our society. America cannot even begin to make amends with the sins of our forefathers and carry out restorative justice to communities of color without this conversation.
Today, the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, which establishes a commission to study reparation proposals and consider a national apology for the institution of slavery. I strongly support this legislation because the social effects of slavery, segregation, and its continuing economic implications have remained largely ignored. It’s time for that to change.
America has a dark past, but we can all do our part to make a brighter future.