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New report details the hundreds of enslavers who were elected to Congress through the years

President Andrew Johnson
Posted at 12:43 PM, Feb 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 14:43:28-05

While some schools are pulling certain books and prohibiting teachings about racism in American history, more education is going mainstream.

The Washington Post recently created an extensive interactive look at past members of Congress who enslaved people.

"There's more and more information being unearthed day after day after day," said Ron Daniels of the National African American Reparations Commission. "And frankly, I never would have believed we'd be at this moment."

Daniels has been at the center of the African American reparations movement pretty much his entire adult life. He says the information that The Post recently uncovered is incredible.

It shows that slave ownership wasn't just among plantation owners in the South. It extended to U.S. presidents and all over the country, even after states passed laws to stop the practice through the Civil War.

"And this is incredibly important in terms of the narrative of people understanding the nature of what happened in history, because we have people's resistance to critical race theory, which is interesting," Daniels said. "And the question is, how do you heal if you are not aware of what the trauma is, what the injury is, what is the basis of the claim? And it's not just limited to enslavement in the South, number one, and secondly, it is all these racially exclusionary policies that you're looking at."

Daniels believes this information will create momentum for initiatives around local, state and federal reparations.

California has a reparations task force studying the state's role in perpetuating the legacy of slavery. The state is expected to recommend proposals to the legislature by next year.

Similar bills have been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate that Daniels says have more bipartisan support now than ever before.

"The revelations of The Washington Post story is going to be helpful because it'll be a way of Congress itself reflecting on itself and I think it produces an even greater urgency to move this legislation forward because of the healing capacity that it has," Daniels said.

The National African American Reparations Commission has a guide to action and healing. Its goal is to initiate and certify local reparations initiatives and be instrumental in education.

"It's important to definitionally have people understand that reparations is yes, about repair and repairing harm and damage that is inflicted by another group or entity or nation on another group of people," Daniels said. "It involves a process of acknowledgment, first and foremost, an apology and then redress and repair in restitution and then, finally, healing. There's a process there."