NEWARK, N.J. (PIX11) – To commemorate Juneteenth, officials and advocates hit the streets in Newark, calling on lawmakers to pass legislation that would establish a reparations task force and pave the way to study and develop reparation proposals.
As Juneteenth celebrations get underway, the debate over reparations has again reignited. The People’s Organization for Progress is now leading that fight. The group led a rally through downtown Newark Friday that concluded at city hall.
“We want the wealth that was stolen from us returned to us. That’s what you call reparations,” said Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress.
Activists have long called for a reparation task force to be established in Congress, which would pave the way for an in-depth study of slavery and its impact and the process of reparation proposals.
While the measure, H.R. 40, hasn’t moved much in the legislative process, advocacy groups believe the momentum is there to make it happen at least on the local level.
“I need 41 Democratic votes in the Assembly, and I need 21 Democratic votes in the Senate. I need Black, brown, white folks, Asian folks to have courage,” said Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter.
The chants in Newark are being echoed around the country. Some advocates are converging in Washington to put pressure on President Joe Biden to take action. While the president has shown no signs of pushing the agenda through by way of an executive order, he has expressed support for a study on reparations.
In the meantime, advocates in New Jersey have launched an education campaign to encourage members of the community to contact legislators to demand they take action on creating the state’s task force in hopes it could lead by example.