A House committee voted to create a commission to study the viability of paying reparations to the descendants of former enslaved people in the United States. While the discussion of slavery reparations has existed since the Civil War, this week’s debate is the first substantive action taken on the potential of reparations.

Slavery reparations once again entered the collective psyche during the 2020 racial justice protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd by then-officer Derek Chauvin who is currently on trial for Floyd’s murder.

Advocates and lawmakers cheered the renewed energy as another major step in acknowledging the barbarism and suffering of black people in America.

“I think that there is a sentiment not of blaming our fellow Americans, but our fellow Americans being sympathetic and empathetic that reparations, restoration, repair will help all of us and that the present-day incidents that are occurring evidences that something needs to be done,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) in a recent statement. “No such bill has ever come this far during Congressional history of the United States.”

The proposed commission would consist of 13 people tasked with studying the economic and social pains suffered by enslaved people from when the first slave was brought to America until today. The commission would recommend “appropriate remedies” to Congress once they reach a consensus.

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