Philly NOW to host panel on reparations bill

by Karen Bojar
Posted 12/3/20

Philadelphia NOW, Pennsylvania NOW, and the Philadelphia Commission for Women will sponsor a virtual Town Hall, “Moving Forward on Racial Equity” on December 6 from 2:00-3:30 p.m. …

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Philly NOW to host panel on reparations bill

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Philadelphia NOW, Pennsylvania NOW, and the Philadelphia Commission for Women will sponsor a virtual Town Hall, “Moving Forward on Racial Equity” on December 6 from 2:00-3:30 p.m. Confirmed speakers include: Congressman Dwight Evans; Mt. Airy resident and feminist activist Nina Ahmad, racial justice activists Michael Coard and Britt Alston.

The focus will be on the passage of HB 40, which establishes a U.S. congressional commission to study and develop reparations proposals for African-Americans. The late Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., first proposed the bill that would become HB 40 in 1989 and introduced it every year until his resignation in 2017. The bill is currently sponsored by Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.

The bill does not call for any specific form of reparations, which might take the form of direct payments to individuals or the form of investments in Black communities, new zoning practices, educational scholarships and business loans.

This the second time Philadelphia NOW held a town hall on reparations. The first was held in 2007 and, although well-received by attendees, it was difficult to get media coverage and draw attention to the issue. In the wake of the demonstrations for racial justice sparked by the murder of George Floyd, we may be finally ready for a serious conversation about reparations.

The debate about reparations has recently moved to state capitols. Pa. Representative Chris Rabb has introduced legislation that would award reparations to African American residents in Pennsylvania and legislators in California, Florida, New York, Texas and Vermont have introduced legislation exploring compensation to the descendants of slaves. An idea once on the margins is now moving to the center of public debate.

It is unlikely that the Black - white wealth gap will close absent some form of reparations. The median wealth of Black families remains less than 1/10 of white families in 2020, the Senate Joint Economic Committee found in its report, “The Economic State of Black America in 2020.”

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