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House Dems discuss slave reparations bill as communities celebrate Juneteenth

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — House Democrats spent Wednesday discussing a bill exploring reparations for slavery.

It lands on a special day, one that marks the end of slavery in the United States.

"Juneteenth" commemorates the day of emancipation for slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865, as well as the general emancipation of slaves.

Slavery was abolished with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but it was two years before the end of the Civil War marked its true end.

More than 150 years later, reparations are being discussed on Capitol Hill.

"Those who picked cotton created the basic wealth of this nation," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.

As Democrats and witnesses on the House floor discussed a bill that would explore possible reparations for slavery, community leaders in Grand Rapids say the discussion fell on the perfect day.

"You can never really go back and equalize what happened in the 1800s, but you certainly can make your ascendants a little better off institutionally in education, housing reform, things like that that could at least make you feel like you're equal," says George Bayard with the Grand Rapids African American Museum.

Though the bill is still in the air, the celebration continued in Michigan in part because of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who signed a proclamation Tuesday making the day official in Michigan.

"It is a holiday that I think people should take some recognition for, slavery is one of those things that's in the past and is really forgotten but as people realize that it was a celebration, that it was something to be a joyous about," Bayard said of the proclamation.

On Wednesday at Dickinson Buffer Park, that celebration continued.

"It's jubilee and it is Juneteenth, it's glad to be free," says organizer Jewellynne Richardson. "This year's celebration we have come together to unite in community relations, we are loving on some of our own and honoring some of our own."

The West Michigan Jewels of Africa hosted the celebration in Dickinson Buffer Park with food and live performance.

Organizers say they want the celebration to continue to launch a people with a broken past into a bright future.

"Black are happy and moving forward, we are united and respect for each other. We wanted to do the NNS: the no negative speaking, we want to make sure you take that away from us today," said Richardson. "Because we can be united, and we can be a powerful force to build up our city."

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9 comments

  • Not racist not violent but no longer silent

    If that happens I suggest that ALL affirmative action, quotas, endowments and any special programs stop. No more welfare etc.
    Everything would be fair then right? Sadly I think not. Victim mentally will never stop. Watching them rant and rave in Congress is hilarious. Yet not ONE brought up the fact that daddy’s always gone. There’s no family structure. Sad.

    • dace

      I believe they have been paid reparations via the ultimate sacrifice of 597,000 Union soldiers killed, wounded or MIA fighting or their freedom.

  • steve

    Another legislative gift to blacks in the hopes they’ll finally be satisfied, it wouldn’t make them happy for long. The only things it would accomplish is to give another undeserved monetary freebie to blacks and at the same time increase the disdain many whites have for blacks. Oh, one more thing……for the Democrats it would ensure the hold they have on black voters is solidified and perhaps buy back those that may have left the party. After all, 2020’s right around the corner.

  • C

    Reparations made today for mistakes made six generations ago are. possibly the most outrageous example of reverse discrimination I’ve ever witnessed. Those that are promoting this insanity have no idea of the long term hate that it could generate . There are an awful lot of Americans that are fed up with taxpayer funded, something for nothing gifts to those that don’t deserve it. If the Democrats on the House subcommittee have any common sense, for the benefit of the entire country. this should go no further

  • Not racist

    Like I have been saying this whole time black people are some of the most racist people on the planet. Can the Jewish people get a holiday too? The we’re put thru some hard times if you ask me . Oh that’s right they grew up

  • dace

    A lovely Junetenth present. Also, how many more racist holidays are coming next. Kwanzaa, History Month and now, all of a sudden, we’re bombarded by something called Juneteenth. It’s all falling apart folks. Say goodbye.

  • Augster

    I have to agree with them on this one. The Democratic party should give every dime they have to the people of color they oppressed through centuries of slavery and Jim Crow laws.

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