Outspoken radio host Joe Madison wants President Joe Biden to do more than celebrate Juneteenth, which was signed into law as a federal holiday in 2021. Madison wants the president to create a presidential commission to study reparations for slavery.
The federal bill H.R. 40, which proposes a commission to study reparations, has yet to be passed. H.R. 40 was first introduced in Congress in 1989 to task a commission with studying and developing reparations proposals, but it has floundered in the House for more than 30 years.
Juneteenth National Independence Day is the 12th legal public holiday. It commemorates the day Union soldiers arrived in the coastal city of Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to deliver General Order No. 3, officially ending slavery in the state.
“Agree or disagree? President Biden and Congress can honor Juneteenth by passing the law to study reparations,” Madison tweeted on June 17.
A Democrat, Madison has spoken out against the Biden administration before. He went on a hunger strike in December 2021 to push for the voting rights act to be passed.
Madison isn’t the only one calling for a presidential reparations commission. Racial justice groups and other organizations are also pressing Biden to use his executive authority to form a federal commission to study and develop reparations proposals for slavery.
In a letter to Biden dated June 4, the Why We Can’t Wait Coalition pushed for the president to establish “by Juneteenth an expert commission like that which would be established by a bill in Congress, H.R. 40.” The coalition is comprised of groups such as Color of Change, Human Rights Watch and the Black Voters Matter Fund, among others, The Hill reported.
“We are in a once-in-a-lifetime moment that we cannot let slip away if we are to begin the process of repair,” the letter states.
It urges Biden “to work with supporting organizations and House sponsors of H.R. 40 to set up the same commission by executive order by Juneteenth this year.”
The letter featured signatures from nearly 30 advocacy groups and organizations, including the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, the Reparation Education Project, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Faith for Black Lives, the Black Church PAC, the National Consumers League, Reparations 4 Slavery and Until Freedom.
Economist and reparations scholar William Darity has long called for a special repartitions commission.
When Biden was promoting his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan in 2021, Darity said in an interview with CBS News that the plan needed to include reparations. Darity, a Duke University professor, and A. Kirsten Mullen co-authored the book “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century.”
“I think the plan would be superior if it included such economic rights as a right to employment through a federal job guarantee or the provision of equity banking services for all Americans through a restored postal banking system or other public banking vehicles,” Darity said. “This would be a way to eliminate predatory lending and be a way to provide people with credit in a more affordable fashion.”
Photo: Talk Show Host Joe Madison (Courtesy photo) / President Joe Biden speaks about his infrastructure plan at the Electric City Trolley Museum, in Scranton, Pa., Oct. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)