*Heisman Trophy winner and NFL vet Herschel Walker pushed back against Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee during a virtual House subcommittee meeting held Wednesday to debate the merits of her reparations bill. The legislation would establish a federal commission to explore reparations for Black Americans.
“We believe in determination, and we believe in overcoming the many bad balls that we have been thrown; we’ve caught them, and we’ve kept on going. That is not the point of H.R. 40,” Jackson Lee said in her opening statement. “Now more than ever, the facts and circumstances facing our nation demonstrate the importance of H.R. 40 and the necessity of placing our nation on the path to reparative justice.”
Walker, a conservative who backed Donald Trump, pushed back against the need for reparations. He told the subcommittee: “We use black power to create white guilt. My approach is biblical. How can I ask my heavenly Father to forgive me if I can’t forgive my brother?”
He added: “I never want to put any one religion down, my religion teaches togetherness. Reparations teaches separation.”
Republican Utah Rep. Burgess Owens, also a Black conservative, echoed Walker’s sentiments. “The reality is that Black American history is not one of a hapless, hopeless race oppressed by a more powerful white race,” he said. “It’s the history of millions of middle and wealthy class Black Americans throughout the early 20th century, achieving the American dream.”
Black conservative radio show host Larry Elder was also on the panel to argue against the proposed legislation.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held the virtual hearing just to discuss the bill, which was first introduced by the late Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) in 1989. The legislation has never received a floor vote. Rep. Lee reintroduced the measure in January with 162 co-sponsors, all Democrats.
“We are very clear that we need not ask whether or not slavery has had an impact, but instead illuminate the extent to which it has had an impact,” California Secretary of State Shirley Weber said at Wednesday’s hearing.
Hilary O. Shelton, head of the NAACP’s Washington, D.C., office, added during his testimony: “The issue of slavery is one that did not end with a stroke of Abraham Lincoln’s pen and the Emancipation Proclamation. … As a matter of fact, many of the residuals of the transatlantic slave trade sadly, as we look at the disparities in data, are still very much with us.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, when asked later in the day about President Biden’s position on the legislation, told reporters that the president supports “a study of reparations.”