Sen. Cory Booker is moving forward with the idea that African-Americans deserve slavery reparations, introducing a bill Tuesday that would create a commission to study the issue.
"Since slavery in this country, we have had overt policies fueled by white supremacy and racism that have oppressed African-Americans economically for generations," Booker said in a statement. "Many of our bedrock domestic policies that have ushered millions of Americans into the middle class have systematically excluded blacks through practices like GI Bill discrimination and redlining. This bill is a way of addressing head-on the persistence of racism, white supremacy, and implicit racial bias in our country. It will bring together the best minds to study the issue and propose solutions that will finally begin to right the economic scales of past harms and make sure we are a country where all dignity and humanity is affirmed."
If the legislation passes, it would establish a commission to analyze the “impact of slavery and continuing discrimination against African-Americans." It would further make recommendations on how reparations could be distributed to descendents of slaves.
Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), who introduced similar legislation in the House earlier this year, praised Booker.
"Since the initial introduction of this legislation in 1989, the importance of examining the institution of slavery in the United States has been recognized across a broad range of our society," she said. "I am pleased that Senator Booker has introduced a Senate Companion to H.R. 40. I salute his dedication to elevating the discussion of reparations and reparatory justice, and look forward to the dialogue that this issue engenders on and off Capitol Hill."
Several Democratic candidates for president, including Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren have publicly supported the idea.
According to nationwide polling, however, reparations remain an unpopular policy.