400TH ANNIVERSARY OF FIRST ENSLAVED AFRICANS BROUGHT TO AMERICA; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 143
(House of Representatives - September 09, 2019)

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[Pages H7551-H7557]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                              {time}  1945
    400TH ANNIVERSARY OF FIRST ENSLAVED AFRICANS BROUGHT TO AMERICA

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Ms. Ocasio-Cortez). Under the Speaker's 
announced policy of January 3, 2019, the gentlewoman from California 
(Ms. Lee) is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the majority 
leader.


                             General Leave

  Ms. LEE of California. Madam Speaker, I would like to ask unanimous 
consent that all Members have 5 legislative days in which to revise and 
extend their remarks and include extraneous material on my Special 
Order for tonight.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from California?
  There was no objection.
  Ms. LEE of California. Madam Speaker, I am honored tonight to share 
and conduct the Special Order sponsored by the Congressional Black 
Caucus, and I want to thank Chairwoman Karen Bass for her tremendous 
leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus and for holding this 
Special Order tonight in our effort to raise to the public and this 
body's attention the observance of 400 years since the first enslaved 
Africans were brought to the shores of America, which began 250 years 
of one of the most horrific crimes committed against humanity: the 
government-sanctioned institution of slavery.
  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from California (Chairwoman 
Bass) for her statement, and I want to say to her that I really commend 
her tonight for her leadership and, really, for keeping Africa as 
central in our foreign policy, because we are all reminded, through her 
leadership, that Africa does matter.
  Ms. BASS. Madam Speaker, as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, 
along with my fellow CBC colleagues, I am pleased to join Congresswoman 
Barbara Lee, Congressman  Bobby Scott, and Congresswoman Alma Adams for 
this CBC Special Order hour. Tonight, my colleagues and I will take the 
time to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved 
Africans arriving in the United States.
  The transatlantic slave trade was the largest coerced migration of 
human beings in the history of the world. An estimated 10 to 12 million 
enslaved Africans were transported across the Atlantic Ocean between 
the 16th and 19th centuries.
  The brutality, murder, rape, disease, and starvation were so high 
that some historians assess that around 15 to 25 percent of the 
enslaved Africans died aboard slave ships.
  Slavery in the United States officially lasted from 1619 to 1865, or 
246 years. Enslaved Africans worked 10 or more hours a day, in 
dangerous conditions, and also worked 18-hour days in peak cotton-
picking and sugar harvest season.
  The average lifespan of enslaved Africans who labored on sugar and 
rice plantations was only 7 years. Violence on the plantations was 
always a danger and threat to the lives of enslaved human beings.
  Wealth from the enslaved Africans and their labor established global 
capitalism and set the economic foundation for Europe, the Caribbean, 
and the Americas.
  According to the National Museum of African American History and 
Culture, by 1860, 4 million enslaved people produced well over 60 
percent of the Nation's wealth, and the slave trade valued them at $2.7 
billion. The financial legacy of the slave trade contributed to the 
creation of nation-states such as France, Spain, Portugal, the 
Netherlands, Great Britain, South America, the Caribbean, as well as 
the United States.
  One of the contemporary myths that too many Americans believe is that 
only the South gained from slavery. However, both the southern and 
northern economies of the United States profited from slavery. For 
example, in Manhattan, enslaved Black men accounted for one third of 
the labor force by 1740.
  During Reconstruction, former enslaved Africans made some progress: 
The first Black Members of Congress were elected to the House and the 
Senate. Nevertheless, Black Members of Congress were still not allowed 
to eat in the same cafeteria as their White colleagues and were 
segregated, overall, in the institution.
  And this went on for many years. There was a period in which there 
were

[[Page H7552]]

no African Americans in Congress at all because they were run out.
  Black Codes adopted under Reconstruction in the South and some areas 
of the North restricted freed Blacks from equal political rights, 
access to quality education, and jobs. For example, the State of 
Mississippi enacted a Black Code law to arrest free African Americans 
who were unemployed and lacked permanent housing. They could be 
arrested and bound out for a term of labor if unable to pay the fine, 
which means they were just reenslaved, and they used the criminal 
justice system to reenslave people.
  When Reconstruction ended in 1877, the majority of African Americans 
lived in the Southern States; however, the southerners used their power 
in State and local governments to pass new laws, Jim Crow laws. Some 
people refer to this as U.S. apartheid.
  As a matter of fact, when White South Africans were setting up the 
apartheid system in the early part of the 20th century, they traveled 
to the southern part of the United States to learn what we did so they 
could replicate it.
  The civil rights movement was born out of the need to resist second-
class citizenship and to demand that America deliver on the promises in 
the U.S. Constitution.
  The 1964 Civil Rights Act granted the Federal Government a new role 
in desegregating schools and other public facilities. The progress that 
was made and the legislation that was eventually passed in the U.S. 
Congress was made because of a massive grassroots movement that we have 
come to know as the civil rights movement.
  Many laws were passed that allowed for equality or access to 
education. But, as soon as those laws were passed, unfortunately, they 
were challenged in the Supreme Court.
  So, as we remember and honor the 400th anniversary of all the 
enslaved Africans' arrival in America, we must never forget the 
tragedies, successes, and contributions that all of them made, and that 
African Americans are a part of the very fabric of America and have 
made significant contributions in every major field.
  Oftentimes, we tell the glorious history of the United States, but, 
at some point in time, we will embrace all of the history of the United 
States and not just focus on the parts that make us all feel good.
  Ms. LEE of California. Madam Speaker, I thank Chairwoman Bass for 
laying out much of the history and reminding us that this is really an 
opportunity to recognize the resilience, the renewal, and the strength 
of Africans and African Americans. Through much adversity, as the 
gentlewoman laid out, African Americans, the descendants of enslaved 
people, continued to rise from our brutal past.
  I thank the gentlewoman again for her leadership.
  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Scott), 
chairman of our Committee on Education and Labor, who has led so many 
efforts to educate the public with regard to this 400th year 
commemoration and, also, the real significance of the Middle Passage as 
it relates to not only 400 years ago, but today.
  Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Madam Speaker, I rise today to share some 
reflections on events commemorating the first arrival of enslaved 
Africans to English colonies, to North America, including a forum my 
colleague, Representative Donald McEachin, hosted in Richmond earlier 
this summer and the events that took place on Fort Monroe National 
Monument last month.
  It was my great honor, along with Representative Luria, to welcome 
Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass and fellow CBC member 
Lacy Clay to Hampton Roads for the solemn occasion marking the 400th 
anniversary of the first landing of enslaved Africans to English-
speaking North America.
  The history of our Nation cannot be fully understood or appreciated 
without knowing and acknowledging the stories of those first what they 
said was ``20 and odd'' Africans and the millions who followed them.
  This was a goal that Senator Kaine and I had in mind when we drafted 
H.R. 1242, a bill to establish a Federal 400 Years of African-American 
History Commission. The goal of that commission was to explore ways to 
commemorate not just the events of 1619, but also to recognize all that 
has happened since.
  The city of Hampton and the Commonwealth of Virginia did a tremendous 
job in organizing events, including those last month, to commemorate 
and reflect on what happened in 1619; but it is incumbent that we, as a 
body, support the ongoing and necessary work of that commission beyond 
2019, as we committed to do when we passed H.R. 1242.
  Senator Kaine and I are working with our colleagues in Congress to 
secure Federal funding to support the work of the commission, which is 
mandated under H.R. 1242 to plan programs to commemorate the history, 
recognize the resiliency of the African American community, acknowledge 
the impact that slavery and legalized racial discrimination has had on 
our country, and educate the public about those impacts and 
contributions to our community.
  The commission is also directed to provide technical assistance to 
State, local, and nonprofit groups working to further the 
commemorations as well as ongoing research on our complicated history.
  Madam Speaker, $1 million was included in the House version of the 
fiscal year 2020 Department of the Interior appropriations bill to 
support the commission's work, and that legislation passed the House 
earlier this year.
  I am committed to making sure that these funds are actualized. 
Thankfully, there is significant precedent for Federal support for 
commissions like this.
  Additionally, in recognizing the tremendous task before the 
commissioners and the funding challenges they faced, Senator Kaine and 
I are also actively exploring ways to extend the work of the commission 
for several years beyond its present July 2020 termination date.
  This part of our Nation's history is far too important to let this 
opportunity pass. Every American should be afforded the chance to 
understand and learn from it.
  As we gathered at the site of where slavery first arrived on our 
shores 400 years ago, we reflected on our complicated history; we 
celebrated the resiliency and many contributions of the descendants of 
those slaves; and we are committed to following the research and 
effectively addressing the issues that continue to plague our 
communities, including, a tax on our voting rights, police brutality, 
environmental injustice, and disparities in education, housing, wealth, 
and criminal justice.
  So, as we reflect on the events of 1619, let us all commit to 
constructively address those horrific years of slavery and legal racial 
discrimination and move forward with the strength, wisdom, and resolve 
of our ancestors.
  Madam Speaker, I want to thank the gentlewoman from California for 
convening this Special Order.
  Ms. LEE of California. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman from 
Virginia for that very powerful statement and, also, for the very hard 
and diligent work that he has been engaged in around the commission and 
what he is doing each and every day to educate not only his district, 
but the entire country with regard to not only the past, but, also, 
where we must go from here. I thank Chairman Scott again.
  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from North Carolina (Ms. 
Adams). Congresswoman Adams serves on the Financial Services Committee 
and the Committee on Education and Labor. But, also, I always have to 
say that I know her as an artist, as a professor, but also as a great 
public servant. I thank the gentlewoman, again, for being with us 
tonight.
  Ms. ADAMS. Madam Speaker, it is my privilege to be here tonight, and 
I want to thank the gentlewoman from California for not only her wisdom 
and guidance and for leading this session tonight, but for all of the 
distinguished work that she has done for so many years.

  I also congratulate the chair of the CBC, Karen Bass, for the 
leadership that she is providing, as well as the chair of the Committee 
on Education and Labor, on which I have the privilege of sitting, 
Congressman  Bobby Scott.
  I rise today, Madam Speaker, to join my colleagues in recognition of 
the 400th anniversary of the first recorded forced arrival of enslaved 
African people in America.

[[Page H7553]]

  This anniversary marks the beginning of a legacy of oppression and 
discrimination, the effects of which we still live with today. From 
those first 19 Africans who reached Jamestown, upwards to 12 million 
Africans would be kidnapped from their homes and brought to the new 
world.
  Those men and women had almost everything taken from them: their 
names, their religion, their families, and their freedom. But the one 
thing that couldn't be taken from them was their spirit.
  The culture and customs that they brought to America leave a heritage 
for us, their descendants, to be proud of, to recognize how far we have 
come and how far we still have to go.
  We know structural racism in our society didn't end in 1865. We know 
it didn't end in 1965. We know that there are still racial disparities 
in access to employment and education and healthcare. We know racial 
bias persists in our criminal justice system, and we know that pay 
disparities still exist along racial lines.
  The shameful legacy of slavery remains, and it is incumbent upon us, 
the Joshua generation, to keep us moving forward.
  One of the first things we can do to keep us on the path to a more 
equitable future is to have a full reckoning with our past. It is long 
past time for us, as a society, to have an open and honest conversation 
about the lasting effects of slavery in America.
  My esteemed colleague Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee picked up the 
torch and introduced H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop 
Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, of which I am a proud 
cosponsor.
  We need to have that open national dialogue to come to terms with how 
we as a nation have not historically lived up to our ideals.
  The advocacy of our youth who fight for consideration of this bill is 
a callback to the fights that made public accommodations open to all 
races and that made the voting booth open to all as well.
  It is a callback to the abolitionists who awakened the public to the 
horrors of slavery and the Black men who became soldiers to protect and 
preserve our Union and their freedom.
  It is a callback to the 19 Africans who landed in chains on those 
Virginia shores 400 years ago who never gave up the hope that one day 
they would once again be free.

                              {time}  2000

  Ms. LEE of California. Madam Speaker, I thank Congresswoman Adams for 
that very eloquent statement, and also for what she is doing with our 
young people as the chair of our Historically Black College and 
University Caucus. What the gentlewoman is doing in terms of pulling us 
all together on behalf of the education of all of our children is 
remarkable. And she is not only teaching us how to teach them, but also 
leading the way on so many issues as an educator.
  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Payne), 
who serves on the Homeland Security Committee and the Transportation 
Committee.
  Congressman Payne's whole life has been about addressing the 
inequities and the vestiges of this last 400 years. But also, he grew 
up in a household where his dad, our great friend, the late Congressman 
Don Payne, focused on Africa. His son, Congressman  Don Payne, Jr., has 
Africa in his blood as a result of growing up in a household with his 
wonderful, beloved father.
  I thank the gentleman for being here.
  Mr. PAYNE. Madam Speaker, let me first thank the gentlewoman from 
California for those kind remarks. She has been a consummate fighter 
for equality for all people across this world, a true humanitarian in 
her own right, from Oakland, California.
  I had the great honor, during the time we celebrated her birthday, to 
see a picture of her with this Afro that was indicative of the times. 
It was perfect, and I was not surprised.
  But her work in the Congress is second to none, and she has been a 
true role model for me, a true friend to my father. He always had high 
accolades for the gentlewoman from California, and now that I am her 
colleague, I understand why.
  Madam Speaker, this year marks what I would call ``America's Great 
Economic Shame.''
  In 1619, the first boats filled with victims of human bondage reached 
our shores. When they docked, the very first African Americans walked 
off a plank and into American history. They would create a dilemma for 
the leaders and citizens of this new republic that has not been solved 
to this day.
  They were considered unequal in a country where all men were created 
equal. Their existence would cause otherwise pious and moral men to 
engage in the most immoral behavior. And they came together to fight 
for one goal: the belief that one day, someday, they would be free at 
last.
  As we commemorate the 400th anniversary of enslaved Africans reaching 
this land, America, it is important to discuss how far African 
Americans have come as a culture and a community and how far we have 
yet to go.
  When I look around this Chamber, I see the results of how far we have 
come. There are now 55 African Americans in the United States House of 
Representatives, led by a champion of our commitment to freedom, 
Congressman   John Lewis.
  This representation would have seemed impossible 400 years ago. Back 
then, African Americans were considered property. Back then, families 
could be torn apart for a greater economic interest. Back then, African 
Americans in slave States could be killed for something as simple as 
learning to read.
  We did not ask to be slaves, yet we triumphed in spite of it. We knew 
they might own our bodies, but they would never control our spirit.
  We have succeeded in every area of American life. Let us look at just 
a few ways that we have altered America for the better.
  It is easy to talk about how almost every original American music 
style comes from our community, everything from jazz to blues to hip-
hop, but there are several inventions we use daily that came from 
African Americans.
  We invented America's first clock and then the first automatic 
elevator doors.
  We invented the traffic light.
  We invented the clothes dryer and the electric lamp.
  We invented the ice cream scoop, the lawnmower, the mailbox, and even 
the heart pacemaker.
  We have triumphed over tragedy, but we still have a way to go.
  Right now, local, State, and national politicians are trying to 
reverse our civil rights. They could work to support us; instead, they 
want to deny us our vote. That is why we need to stick together and 
avoid the desire to focus on our differences.
  It is important that we remember that it was coming together as a 
community that helped us survive the horrors of slavery; that it was 
our commitment to the common ideals of brotherhood, sisterhood, and 
family that helped us succeed. We need to remember that.
  In these times where forces try to tear us apart, it is our common 
ancestry that can bring us together. It was true 400 years ago, and it 
is true today.
  Ms. LEE of California. Madam Speaker, I thank Congressman Payne, 
first of all, for his kind and gracious words, but, also, for that 
brilliant presentation reminding us again not only of our history, but 
how we have risen to be great leaders in our country.
  I also want to thank the gentleman for his steady leadership on so 
many issues, including healthcare, and how he is working to raise the 
issue of the racial gaps as it relates to people of color, as it 
relates to diabetes and all of those health indices that we have to 
close these gaps. I thank him for being here tonight and participating.
  Madam Speaker, how much time do I have remaining, please?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentlewoman from California has 35 
minutes remaining.
  Ms. LEE of California. Madam Speaker, 400 years ago, as we have heard 
tonight, the first slave ship arrived in Virginia. This began one of 
the darkest chapters in American history.
  During the course of over 250 years of slavery--that is, government-
sanctioned slavery in America--families were ripped apart. People were 
beaten and brutalized. Men, women, and children were sold and traded 
like objects. And to this day, Black communities 

[[Page H7554]]

continue to suffer from the generational trauma from these crimes 
against humanity.

  That was followed by another 75 years of racism and domestic 
terrorism under Jim Crow and segregation, during which thousands of 
African Americans were lynched. Churches were bombed. Entire 
communities were burned to the ground in the not-so-recent, distant 
past.
  Racist economic policies also institutionalized the racial hierarchy 
established by slavery and kept African Americans trapped and 
segregated disproportionately in poverty: policies like land seizure 
laws that left African American farmers at risk of having their land 
seized and turned over to their White peers; the Fair Labor Standards 
Act, which excluded professions dominated by African Americans from 
minimum wage protections; the separate but equal doctrine in schools 
and public facilities; the segregation of the armed services, in which 
my dad served in a segregated military, fighting in two wars for our 
country.
  Jim Crow gave way to decades of racist housing policies like 
redlining and subprime lending that further prevented African Americans 
from building wealth; followed by the war on drugs, which devastated 
our communities, tore apart families, and incarcerated millions of 
needlessly incarcerated fellow African Americans.
  Today, we see continued disparities among African Americans due to 
the legacy of slavery, racism, and Jim Crow in America. African 
Americans still face disproportionate levels of poverty, unemployment, 
and overwhelming struggles to achieve educational and economic 
opportunities.
  Health disparities, including the highest rate of HIV infections, 
continue to impact African American communities due to the lack of 
equal access and prevention resources. It is completely unacceptable 
that Black women are four times more likely to die from preventable 
pregnancy complications than White women.
  Now, for decades, our criminal justice system has disproportionately 
targeted communities of color, especially Black and Brown women and 
men. Structural and institutional racism permeates every aspect of 
American society.
  And now, sadly, we have a Presidential administration that continues 
to ignore our Nation's dark history of racism and bondage and, in many 
ways, is trying to move us backwards. From voter suppression, from 
targeting African Americans and people of color with budget cuts that 
undermine and affect their livelihoods to undermining decades of civil 
rights, the gains that we have made, now we see an administration that 
is trying to roll those protections back. This President is trying to 
turn back the clock.
  Tragically, we are also now seeing history repeat itself with rampant 
family separation of immigrant families at the border, children being 
taken from their parents and put into cages.
  The President has normalized racism and xenophobia. His constant 
attacks on African Americans and people of color, to questioning the 
nationality of our first Black President, to claiming that there are 
good people among white supremacists, his racism has given others 
permission to hate out loud. It has also set the stage for the toxic 
mix of racism, gun violence, and domestic terrorism that is gripping 
our country.
  Yes, we have a President today, and an administration, who continues 
to fan the flames of the fire that was born out of slavery.
  So let me be clear, though. We aren't going back. As I our beloved 
Dr. Maya Angelou said: And still we rise.
  And just because we aren't going back doesn't mean we shouldn't look 
back and learn from our past. That informs what we must do today.
  Now, the Akan people of West Africa, they have a mythical symbol. It 
is a mythical bird. It is a bird called Sankofa. The bird looks back 
with an egg in her mouth. It means reminding us to look back at our 
past, to look at the mistakes we have made, to look at what happened in 
our past that has strengthened us and made us who we are today, and to 
move forward and to not make those same mistakes but to fly forward, 
creating a new world based on justice and freedom.

                              {time}  2015

  This is our ``Sankofa'' moment.
  Earlier this month we observed the 400th anniversary by travelling to 
Ghana with a delegation of Members led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 
and Congresswoman Karen Bass. It was such a privilege and an honor to 
witness and hear our Speaker speak as the first American Speaker of the 
United States of America to the Ghanaian Parliament. This strengthens 
the ties that bind not only between Africans and African Americans, but 
between the African continent and American continent. People in both of 
our continents really have a long history that we need to recognize as 
being oftentimes very difficult but together we must move forward.
  So while we were there, we paid our respects at Cape Coast and Elmina 
Castles. And at the ``Door of No Return'' we walked through where the 
first enslaved Africans departed in chains bound for America. The 
experience was a powerful reminder of the inhumanity of the slave 
trade, but it was also empowering to witness the strength and 
determination of the enslaved to survive and to build a better future 
for the next generation. And we walked back through the ``Door of 
Return,'' what a glorious moment that was for all Members.
  So, today, as we observe 400 years since the first Africans were 
bought to these shores, let it be known that this is a Sankofa moment.
  Moving forward, I look forward to this body addressing the damage 
caused by the inhumanity of slavery, by advancing positive legislation 
that uplifts the descendants of those who were enslaved, including H.R. 
40 championed by our great warrior, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, 
whose steadfast and brilliant work is educating the Congress and the 
public as to why we need a commission to look these past inequities, 
bring them current, and how we begin to address them in 2019.
  Let me close by reading a quote from Nikole Hannah-Jones. She is the 
author of the 1619 Project. ``The 1619 Project aims to reframe the 
country's history, understanding 1619 as our true founding and placing 
the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at 
the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.''
  In Hannah-Jones' seminal piece in the New York Times she wrote: ``Our 
Declaration of Independence, signed on July 4, 1776, proclaims that 
`all men are created equal' and `endowed by their creator with certain 
inalienable rights.' But the white men who drafted those words did not 
believe them to be true for the hundreds of thousands of Black people 
in their midst. `Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' did not 
apply fully to one-fifth of the country. Yet despite being violently 
denied the freedom and justice promised to all, Black Americans 
believed fervently in the American creed. Through centuries of Black 
resistance and protest, we have helped the country to live up to its 
founding ideals.'' She said, ``Without the idealistic, strenuous, and 
patriotic efforts of Black Americans, our democracy today would most 
likely look very different--it might not be a democracy at all.''
  Madam Chair, I have this here, and I want to read a couple of things 
from NETWORK, who are our Catholic sisters who are fighting for 
justice, because I think this lays it out very clearly in terms of the 
progression of where we have been and where we are today through some 
of the laws that were passed.
  So the NETWORK Catholic sisters laid out the first policy: Slave 
codes, 1613 to 1860.
  Policy 2: Andrew Johnson's land policies and sharecropping, 1865 to 
1880.
  Policy 3: Land seizures, 1865 to 1960. During the sixties it was 
repealed.
  The National Housing Act of 1934. This policy, mind you, guaranteed 
loans to white people and legally refused loans to Black people. That 
was 1934. That was enacted in 1934.
  The Social Security Act, 1935 to present. Black people were twice as 
likely to experience hunger or poverty during the Great Depression. And 
65 percent of Black people were ineligible to receive this income 
support.
  The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
  The GI Bill of 1944.
  The Separate but Equal Doctrine, 1954 really to present day.

[[Page H7555]]

  Policy 9: Subprime loans, 1970s to present day.
  Policy 10: The War on Drugs, 1971 to present day.
  I really appreciate the sisters and the nuns for laying this out, 
because it shows us the institutional policies, the laws that were put 
in place that have created this new form of slavery. And this is a very 
powerful document. I hope that everyone has a chance to read this. I 
include in the Record this document.

[From the Network: Advocates for Justice, Inspired by Catholic Sisters]

                    The Racial Wealth and Income Gap


  POLICY 1: Slave Codes, the Fugitive Slave Act, and American Chattel 
                          Slavery (1613-1860)

       The slave codes created ``servitude for natural life'' for 
     African laborers. 250+ years slave labor of millions of 
     African and Black people was the foundation of the American 
     economy and global force that it eventually became. On the 
     eve of the Civil War, Black slaves were valued at an 
     estimated $3.6 billion (not scaled for modern inflation), and 
     none of the Black slaves were able to cash in on that value.


 POLICY 2: Andrew Johnson's Land Policies and Sharecropping (1865-1880)

       After the Civil War, 4 million Black people largely 
     resorted to renting the farm land of their previous master in 
     exchange for a ``share'' of their crop. This system of 
     ``sharecropping'' tied farmers to their former master because 
     they were legally obligated to buy and sell from them.


                  POLICY 3: Land Seizures (1865-1960s)

       Black people were legally at risk of having their land 
     seized from 1865 to the 1960's, due in part to the 
     sharecropping debt that many Black farmers found themselves 
     in. White landowners could arbitrarily declare that Black 
     farmers or business owners were in debt at any time and seize 
     their land.


               POLICY 4: The National Housing Act of 1934

       This policy guaranteed loans to White people and legally 
     refused loans to Black people and anyone living near Black 
     neighborhoods. This policy also resulted in Black people 
     paying sometimes double or triple the amount to buy a 
     contract from a white person to pay mortgage on a house that 
     legally wasn't in their name. Meanwhile, Black people were 
     making payments to secure their chances of being able to own 
     their home, while still not receiving any equity on the 
     payments toward that home.


            POLICY 5: The Social Security Act (1935-Present)

       Black people were twice as likely to experience hunger or 
     poverty during The Great Depression, and sixty-five percent 
     of Black people were ineligible to receive this income 
     support. This was designed in such a way that excluded 
     farmworkers and domestic workers--who were predominantly 
     Black--from receiving ``old-age'' and ``unemployment'' 
     insurance. To this day, farmworkers and domestic workers are 
     excluded.


             POLICY 6: The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

       This was enacted to help lift the economy out of the Great 
     Depression but excluded a number of tip-based professions 
     predominantly held by Black workers from the first minimum-
     wage protections. Even though the Black unemployment and 
     poverty rates were twice that of White people during the 
     Great Depression, the very policies meant to alleviate 
     economic strain were often withheld from the Black community, 
     making it harder to build wealth in the future.


                    POLICY 7: The G.I. Bill of 1944

       This was enacted to help World War II veterans adjust to 
     civilian life by providing low-cost home mortgages, low-
     interest business loans, tuition assistance, and unemployment 
     compensation. Most of the benefits distributed were 
     unavailable to Black service members.


      POLICY 8: Separate but Equal Doctrine (1954 to Present Day)

       Despite the Separate but Equal, Doctrine being overturned 
     in 1954, American schools are more racially segregated today 
     than they have been in the past four decades, since Black 
     students are seven times more likely to live in areas of 
     concentrated poverty, and attend underfunded, understaffed, 
     and overcrowded schools.


            POLICY 9: Subprime Loans (1970s to Present Day)

       Starting in the 1970's and continuing today, the private 
     sector issued subprime loans almost exclusively to Black 
     families, regardless of income, good credit, or financial 
     history. As a result, Black families continued to unfairly 
     pay more money for homes of the same value as their White 
     counterparts, causing rates of foreclosure among Black 
     families to increase.


           POLICY 10: The War on Drugs (1971 to Present Day)

       The War on Drugs exacerbated the racial wealth gap with 
     practices that inherently targeted Black and brown 
     communities. Although rates of drug use and selling are 
     similar across racial lines, Black men are up to 10 times as 
     likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, prosecuted, 
     convicted and incarcerated for drug law violations than 
     White.
  Ms. LEE of California. Madam Speaker, finally, let me just close by 
thanking Congresswoman Karen Bass, once again, for keeping the 
motherland of millions of Americans in the forefront of our foreign 
policy, for the Congressional Black Caucus for recognizing the 
solemnness of this moment, the importance of this moment and 
recognizing that African Americans after 400 years are continuing to 
fight for justice and for freedom and for a more perfect union for all 
Americans.
  Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. All Members are reminded to refrain from 
engaging in personalities toward the President.
  Ms. JOHNSON of Texas. Madam Speaker, I rise in recognition and 
commemoration of the first enslaved Africans who arrived in the United 
States 400 years ago. In 1619, the first recorded year of African 
slaves arriving in the land we now call the United States of America, 
did not know of our future. Our blood lines have continued in this 
country since that time. Our history in this country began 400 years 
ago when the first captured and kidnapped Africans were put on a boat 
from the Kingdom of Ndongo in Angola and landed in North America.
  The African slaves who first landed in English North America didn't 
know that a whole new classification of black people, African 
Americans, would develop into strong advocates of equality, justice and 
freedom for people of all nations around the world. They didn't know 
about Martin nor Malcom; Mahalia nor Michelle; all they knew is that 
they had to survive. They knew they had to live to fight another day. 
And here we are still helping to build this great nation, today.
  While those first 20 survived, millions of captured, kidnapped, and 
enslaved Africans did not, they drowned in horrible deaths in the 
Atlantic Ocean. This period of middle passage was devastating for 
African people. Those who survived were traumatized by the deadly 
voyage to a land of slavery, the opposite of freedom. Here in this 
magnificent Capitol, built by slaves, in this great city, built by 
slaves, in this great nation, built by slaves, we stand stronger than 
ever before.
  To those who came before us, I honor your sacrifice and continue your 
fight for freedom. 400 years later, the fight for survival and freedom 
continues.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague, Congresswoman 
Barbara Lee for anchoring this Special Order recognizing the 400th 
anniversary of the first slave arriving in America.
  Four hundred years ago the first slave arrived in America, ships set 
sail from the west coast of Africa and in the process, began one of 
mankind's most inhumane practices: human bondage and slavery.
  For two centuries, human beings--full of hopes and fears, dreams and 
concerns, ambition and anguish--were transported onto ships like 
chattel, and the lives of many forever changed.
  The reverberations from this horrific series of acts--a transatlantic 
slave trade that touched the shores of a colony that came to be known 
as America, and later a democratic republic known as the United States 
of America--are unknown and worthy of exploration.
  Approximately 4,000,000 Africans and their descendants were enslaved 
in the United States and colonies that became the United States from 
1619 to 1865.
  The institution of slavery was constitutionally and statutorily 
sanctioned by the Government of the United States from 1789 through 
1865.
  American Slavery is our country's original sin and its existence at 
the birth of our nation is a permanent scar on our country's founding 
documents, and on the venerated authors of those documents, and it is a 
legacy that continued well into the last century.
  While it is nearly impossible to determine how the lives touched by 
slavery could have flourished in the absence of bondage, we have 
certain datum that permits us to examine how a subset of Americans--
African Americans--have been affected by the callousness of involuntary 
servitude.
  We know that in almost every segment of society--education, 
healthcare, jobs and wealth--the inequities that persist in America are 
more acutely and disproportionately felt in Black America.
  This historic discrimination continues: African-Americans continue to 
suffer debilitating economic, educational, and health hardships 
including but not limited to having nearly 1,000,000 black people 
incarcerated; an unemployment rate more than twice the current white 
unemployment rate; and an average of less than 1/16 of the wealth of 
white families, a disparity which has worsened, not improved over time.
  A closer look at the statistics reveals the stark disparity in these 
areas.
  Black household wealth is less than one fifth of the national 
average.
  The median black household had a net worth of just $17,600 in 2016. 
Yet in that same year, the median white house hold held

[[Page H7556]]

$171,000 in wealth while the national household median was $97,300.
  The black unemployment rate is 6.6 percent, more than double the 
national unemployment rate.
  Approximately 31 percent children live in poverty, compared to 11 
percent of white children. The national average is 18 percent which 
suggests that the percentage of black children living in poverty is 
more than 150 percent the national average.
  In the healthcare domain, the disparities suffered by African 
Americans is also troubling.
  Over 26 percent of African Americans do not have health insurance, 
compared to a national average between 8.8 percent and 9.1 percent.
  One in four African American women are uninsured.
  Compared to national average, African American adults are 20 percent 
more likely to suffer from asthma and three times more likely to die 
from it.
  Black adults are 72 percent more likely to suffer from diabetes than 
average.
  Black women are four times more likely to die from pregnancy related 
causes, such as embolisms, and pregnancy-related hypertension, than any 
other racial group.
  In our nation, among children aged 19-35 months, black children were 
vaccinated at rates lower than white children: 68 percent versus 78 
percent respectively.
  Education has often been called the key to unlocking social mobility.
  African American students are less likely than white students to have 
access to college-ready courses.
  In fact, in 2011-12, only 57 percent of black students have access to 
a full range of math and science courses necessary for college 
readiness, compared to with 81 percent of Asian American students and 
71 percent of white students.
  Black students spend less time in the classroom due to discipline, 
which further hinders their access to a quality education.
  Black students are nearly two times as likely to be suspended without 
educational services as white students.
  Black students are also 3.8 times as likely to receive one or more 
out-of-school suspensions as white students.
  In addition, black children represent 19 percent of the nation's pre-
school population, yet 47 percent of those receiving more than one out-
of-school suspension.
  School districts with the most students of color, on average, receive 
15 percent less per student in state and local funding than the whitest 
districts.
  And, of course, we cannot consider the disparities between black and 
white in America without considering the intersection of African 
Americans and the Criminal Justice system.
  There are more Black men in bondage today who are incarcerated or 
under correctional control, than there were black men who were enslaved 
in the 1800s.
  The United States locks up African American males at a rate 5.8 times 
higher than the most openly racist country in the world ever did:
  South Africa under apartheid (1993), African American males: 851 per 
100,000
  United States (2006), African American males: 4,789 per 100,000
  Incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment. For example, 
incarceration rates in the United States by race were:
  African Americans: 2,468 per 100,000
  Latinos: 1,038 per 100,000
  Whites: 409 per 100,000
  African American offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent 
longer than white offenders for the same crimes and are 21 percent more 
likely to receive mandatory-minimum sentences than white defendants 
according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
  Looking at males aged 25-29 and by race, you can see what is going on 
even clearer:
  For White males ages 25-29: 1,685 per 100,000;
  For Latino males ages 25-29: 3,912 per 100,000;
  For African American males ages 25-29: 11,695 per 100,000. (That's 
11.7 percent of Black men in their late 20s.)
  Overall, one in 50 murders is ruled justified--but when the killer is 
white and the victim is a black man, the figure climbs to one in six.
  A handgun homicide is nine times more likely to be found justified 
when the killer is white and the victim is a black man.
  Hand gun killings with a white shooter and a black male victim 
exhibit an even more dramatic bias: one in four is found justified.
  But then again, we knew these inequities existed I because for many 
Black Americans, these disparities are just a part of daily life.
  This is why, in 1989, my predecessor as the most senior African 
American on this September Judiciary Committee, the honorable John 
Conyers, a past Chairman of this Committee introduced H.R. 40, 
legislation that would establish a commission to study and develop 
proposals attendant to reparations.
  Though many thought it a lost cause, John Conyers believed that a day 
would come when our nation would need to account for the brutal 
mistreatment of African-Americans during chattel slavery, Jim Crow 
segregation and the enduring structural racism endemic to our society.
  I would like to take this moment to personally thank the estimable 
John Conyers for his work on this legislation for the last thirty 
years.
  With the rise and normalization of white supremacist expression 
during the Trump administration, the discussion of H.R. 40 and the 
concept of restorative justice have gained more urgency, garnering the 
attention of mainstream commentator, and illustrating the need for a 
national reckoning.
  H.R. 40 is intended to create the framework for a national discussion 
on the enduring impact of slavery and its complex legacy to begin that 
necessary process of atonement.
  The designation of this legislation as H.R. 40 is intended to 
memorialize the promise made by General William T. Sherman, in his 1865 
Special Field Order No. 15, to redistribute 400,000 acres of formerly 
Confederate owned coastal land in South Carolina and Florida, 
subdivided into 40 acre plots.
  Since its introduction, H.R. 40 has acted to spur some governmental 
acknowledgement of the sin of slavery, but most often the response has 
taken the form of an apology.
  However, even the well intentioned commitments to to examine the 
historical and modern day implications of slavery by the Clinton 
administration fell short of the mark and failed to inspire substantive 
pubic discourse.
  Since my reintroduction of H.R. 40 at the beginning of this Congress, 
both the legislation and concept of reparations have become the focus 
of national debate.
  For many, it is apparent that the success of the Obama administration 
has unleashed a backlash of racism and intolerance that is an echo of 
America's dark past which has yet to be exorcised from the national 
consciousness.
  Commentators have turned to H.R. 40 as a response to formally begin 
the process of analyzing, confronting and atoning for these dark 
chapters of American history.
  Even conservative voices, like that of New York Times columnist David 
Brooks, are starting to give the reparations cause the hearing it 
deserves, observing that ``Reparations are a drastic policy and hard to 
execute, but the very act of talking and designing them heals a wound 
and opens a new story.''
  Similarly, a majority of the Democratic presidential contenders have 
turned to H.R 40 as a tool for reconciliation, with 17 cosponsoring or 
claiming they would sign the bill into law if elected.
  Though critics have argued that the idea of reparations is unworkable 
politically or financially, their focus on money misses the point of 
the H.R. 40 commission's mandate.
  The goal of these historical investigations is to bring American 
society to a new reckoning with how our past affects the current 
conditions of African-Americans and to make America a better place by 
helping the truly disadvantaged.
  Consequently, the reparations movement does not focus on payments to 
individuals, but to remedies that can be created in as many forms 
necessary to equitably address the many kinds of injuries sustained 
from chattel slavery and its continuing vestiges.
  To merely focus on finance is an empty gesture and betrays a lack of 
understanding of the depth of the unaddressed moral issues that 
continue to haunt this nation.
  While it might be convenient to assume that we can address the 
current divisive racial and political climate in our nation through 
race neutral means, experience shows that we have not escaped our 
history.
  By passing H.R. 40, Congress can start a movement toward the national 
reckoning we need to bridge racial divides.
  Reparations are ultimately about respect and reconciliation--and the 
hope that one day, all Americans can walk together toward a more just 
future.
  We owe it to those who were ripped from their homes those many years 
ago an ocean away; we owe it to the millions of Americans- yes they 
were Americans--who were born into bondage, knew a life of servitude, 
and died anonymous deaths, as prisoners of this system.
  We owe it to the millions of descendants of these slaves, for they 
are the heirs to a society of inequities and indignities that naturally 
filled the vacuum after slavery was formally abolished 154 years ago.
  And let me end as I began, noting that this year is the 400th 
commemoration of the 1619 arrival of the first captive Africans in 
English North America, at Point Comfort, Virginia.
  Let us proceed with the cause of this morning with a full heart, with 
the knowledge that this work will take time and trust.
  Let us also do with the spirit of reconciliation and understanding 
that this bill represents.
  Madam Speaker, I ask my colleagues to help address the harm that 
slavery has had on our nation by supporting H.R. 40.

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