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Over 400 lawmakers and more sign letter demanding Biden’s support on racial equity

More than 400 people, including politicians, activists, civil rights leaders, artists, and actors, have sent a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to support reparative justice and racial equality. The letter, which was seen exclusively by ABC News, begs the president to back a collection of proposals in Congress that would use executive orders and acts to tackle systematic inequality.

Notable representatives including Barbara Lee of California, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Cori Bush of Missouri, and Jamaal Bowman of New York are among the notable figures who have signed the petition, which also includes NAACP President Derrick Johnson, attorney Ben Crump, National Action Network President Al Sharpton, and actress Erika Alexander.

Taking the lead is Marcus Anthony Hunter, a professor of sociology and African American studies at UCLA. Hunter presented the letter as a measure of responsibility after significant behind-the-scenes work in both Washington, D.C., and throughout the country.

In reaction to the letter, Rodericka Applewhaite, a spokeswoman for the White House, emphasized President Biden’s efforts to promote racial equity since he took office. She listed record-low Black unemployment, increased Black net worth, and the fastest rate of creation of small businesses owned by Black people in decades as examples.

Several measures have been circulating in Congress with the goal of redressing past wrongs, and the demand for presidential action on racial fairness and reparations is only one more example of this larger movement. Case in point: Representative Barbara Lee’s measure aims to create a commission to investigate the effects of systemic racism, and Representative Cori Bush made history by presenting a resolution that explored the aftereffects of slavery and prejudice.

A key component of these endeavors is the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act (H.R. 40), which seeks to resolve the ongoing consequences of slavery and institutionalized discrimination. This measure has been introduced in every parliamentary session since 1989, but it has never received enough support to pass.

Just as a sobering reminder of the never-ending fight for equality and justice, the letter’s timeliness coincides with the anniversary of the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As the country faces the problems of today, the fight for reparations and restorative justice is vital, as Representative Barbara Lee said.

Persistent inequality and increasing tensions have not deterred campaigners from continuing to put pressure on the Biden administration to do something about the long-standing injustices in the United States. With yet another critical election year upon us, the need of truth and racial reconciliation cannot be overstated.  

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