Beto O'Rourke made a 180-degree turn on the issue of reparations this week while at a conference for black activists in New York organized by the National Action Network. When asked by Al Sharpton, who founded the organization, if he would sign slavery reparations legislation into law, O'Rourke replied with an emphatic ‘Yes!'
Later, O'Rourke said that he'd discussed the issue with Brian Stevenson, the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. “Foundational to reparations is the word repair, foundational to repair is the truth,” O'Rourke said.
“Until all Americans understand that civil rights” also involves “the injustices that have been visited and continue to be visited on people, we will never get the change that we need to live up to the promise of this country. So absolutely I would sign that into law,” he said.
According to Jackson Lee, the bill would “make recommendations concerning any form of apology and compensation to begin the long delayed process of atonement for slavery.”
O'Rourke is the latest 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to back the legislation. Castro, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey also support it.
Castro, one of the most vocal candidates on the issue, said Wednesday that he has long believed “that our country will never truly heal until we address the original sin of slavery.”
“If, under our Constitution, we compensate people if we take their property, why wouldn't we compensate people who were considered property and sanctioned by the state?” he asked the crowd.