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Politics & Policy

Warren Backs Government Reparations for African Americans

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks with reporters at an event in Claremont, N.H., January 18, 2019. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) on Thursday followed fellow Democratic presidential contender Senator Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) in calling for the government to pay reparations to African Americans to atone for slavery and subsequent discrimination.

Warren’s campaign told the New York Times that she does support some form of government reparations for the descendants of slaves, but did not specify what policy she we would pursue if elected in 2020.

Warren’s support for reparations came after Harris came out in support of the idea during a radio interview last week.

“We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities,” she said. “I’m serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities.”

Since angering much of the progressive-activist community last year by publicizing the results of her DNA test to substantiate her claim of Native American ancestry, Warren has prioritized racial equity in laying out her 2020 presidential platform. She has called for a special home-buying-assistance program that would help alleviate the effects of racial red-lining, a phenomenon in which African Americans are prevented from buying homes in certain neighborhoods. She has also presented a universal-child-care proposal that would create a network of government-backed child-care centers available to families making under 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

Other prominent Democratic presidential contenders, including Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, have not yet come out in support of reparations. Senator Bernie Sanders (D., Vt.) dismissed the idea of paying reparations to the descendants of slaves as impractical during his 2016 presidential run but has not weighed in on the issue since.

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