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Religious leaders with Faith in Action are calling on the federal government to support reparations for descendants of slavery

WASHINGTON — For decades Black Americans have felt bore the impact of slavery’s continued legacy, and it is beyond time that Congress invest in solutions rooted in healing and economic empowerment, argued Black clergymembers in a series of statements supporting legislation that would establish a commission examining reparations for descendants of slavery.

“It is a hard but necessary truth that our country’s original sin and enduring systemic racism has plagued our nation for generations,” said The Rev. Alvin Herring, executive director of Faith in Action. “If we are to restore the soul of our nation, as the Biden administration has set out to do, then it is critical that the federal government ensure that no one stands alone and that no one is left behind. So many of our longest-held institutions were built on the backs of enslaved labor, and even hundreds of years after its abolishment, Black Americans continue to pay the price. It is far beyond time that our federal government invest in solutions that free us from the continued shackles of racism in our economic, political, and social landscapes. H.R.40 is a critical first step in realizing this vision of true justice and equity.”

The proposed legislation, H.R. 40, is currently awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Committee. The bill would establish the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, examining slavery and discrimination in the United States from 1619 to now, and “recommend appropriate remedies.”

“I first signed on to a letter in support of H.R. 40 last year as a part of the Human Watch coalition using Dr. King’s 1963 text, ‘Why We Can’t Wait,’” said The Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould, executive director of Missouri Faith Voices. “We have been waiting for 32 years since H.R. 40 was introduced, but Black people in America have been waiting for a tangible response to the terrorizing, traumatizing, commodifying and killing of Black bodies since 1619. Even now, as the Chauvin trial nears the end, we are waiting for justice and echoing the sentiment of the Psalmist, ‘How long GOD?’ This initial vote is a momentous but small step toward overdue justice. We will continue to work diligently and call on Congress to act now on behalf of all of the blood, wealth and life that has been extracted from Black people for generations.”

“We cannot change history but we can create and implement policies that allow us to course correct the path we are on,” said Pastor Trena Turner, executive director of Faith in the Valley. “Slavery has lived on for hundreds of years, it’s just taken on many, many forms for more than 150 years, such as Jim Crow and the prison industrial complex. Slavery, the ownership of Black bodies, shows up in our policing, housing policies and education systems across the country. The passage of H.R. 40 is an historic move in the right direction. It gives our country the opportunity to learn about then correct our original sin. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us that there is a time for everything. The time for reparations is now.”


Faith in Action, formerly known as PICO National Network, is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. The nonpartisan organization works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 46 local and state federations. For more information, visit

 Faith in Action is a 501c(3).  Faith in Action and its affiliates are non-partisan and are not aligned explicitly or implicitly with any candidate or party. We do not endorse or support candidates for office. 



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