Black Caucus Member Rep. Barbara Lee Unveils Bill To Create Commission Addressing Legacy Of Slavery

Black Caucus Member Rep. Barbara Lee Unveils Bill To Create Commission Addressing Legacy Of Slavery

Black Caucus Member Rep. Barbara Lee unveils a bill to create a commission addressing the lingering legacy of American slavery. In this image from video, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., speaks on the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, April 23, 2020. (House Television via AP)

When Congress convened on June 1, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) wasted no time unveiling a resolution that calls for establishing a commission to address the legacy of slavery.

The former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Lee is spearheading the resolution. It is the latest legislative proposal introduced by members of the caucus in recent days amid nationwide protests over the deaths of unarmed African Americans at the hands of police.

“The murder of George Floyd and the current covid-19 crisis illustrates once again the painful and dangerous legacy that white supremacy has had in our country,” Lee said in introducing the measure. “This inequality is at the heart of every crisis we’re dealing with right now.”

Lee added, “This resolution addresses the issue as it relates to the legacy of slavery and the racism in America and the lasting effects on communities of color which of course we still face today.”

The resolution was in the works long before the protests that began after George Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody, according to Lee.

The proposed special commission will be called the “Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Commission.” It will be dedicated to studying the legacy of slavery in the U.S. as well as suggest policies to address modern racial injustices, The Hill reported.

Lee explained the proposal on Twitter: “This inequality is at the heart of every crisis we’re dealing with right now – the crises of police brutality and mass incarceration, the #COVID19 public health crisis which is disproportionately affecting communities of color. #TRHT.”

She added, “Only by understanding our past, & confronting the errors that still haunt us today, can we truly move forward as a people & a country. That’s why I’m proud to lead #TRHT resolution to examine the effects of slavery & racism against people of color & its impact on our policies.”

Other members of the Congressional Black Caucus supported the commission. “It’s very hard to identify with oppression if you have no idea about the origins,” said Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the current CBC chairwoman. “It’s very easy to deny that it exists if you don’t understand the origins. And so having a resolution like this that calls for healing, that calls for reconciliation, that calls for the truth, is exactly what the country needs right now.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said that the panel will be engaging in oversight and considering legislation in the coming weeks to address racial profiling and police brutality.

It also seems that the GOP might at least listen to arguments. In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) read into the Senate record the names of Black people who have died at the hands of the police: George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor.

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“To me and to millions of outraged Americans, these disturbing events do not look like three isolated incidents,” McConnell said in a speech in the Senate chamber. “They look more like the latest chapter in our national struggle to make just and equal protection under the law a fact of life for all Americans.”

This happened while protesters gathered outside the Capitol, which is still partly locked down due to the coronavirus. Still, others sided with President Donald Trump’s insistence on using military force to end the protests, The Messenger-Inquirer reported.

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