US congresswoman thanks Sir Hilary for leadership in the Caribbean

Monday, June 24, 2019

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Democratic Congresswoman for the US State of Texas Sheila Jackson Lee last Wednesday hailed the Caribbean for its contribution to the reparations hearings before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

As leader of the process which brought the Reparations Bill to the floor of the Judiciary Committee, Jackson Lee expressed gratitude, particularly to Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, University of the West Indies vice chancellor and chairman of the Caricom Reparations Commission, .

Jackson Lee was speaking at the Capitol in Washington, DC on the commemoration of Juneteenth, the official commemoration of the end of slavery in Texas in 1865. She thanked Sir Hilary for inspiring the revival of the African-American movement at the highest levels of Government, saying that it was fitting that he was urged to stand before the Subcommittee under the chairmanship of Congressman Nadler, as the significance of the moment was officially acknowledged.

During the hearing, iconic US actor Danny Glover also expressed gratitude to Sir Hilary, his friend, for facilitating his own global activist engagement in the reparations movement.

Jackson Lee later thanked Sir Hilary again at a town hall meeting where he was the keynote speaker. She acknowledged her gratitude to him for framing the conversation within Caricom in a way that is developmental and not divisive. She further recognised the role that Caribbean luminaries have always played in the progressive politics of America — from the pan-African role of Marcus Garvey, to the reparations discourse of Sir Hilary himself.

Sir Hilary — standing in the Chamber, symbolically under the portrait of former Congressman John Conyers, his long-serving mentor and father of the congressional movement— assured US Democratic New Jersey Senator Cory Booker that the Caricom Reparations Commission will be fully available to assist sponsors of the Bill as it is piloted through the House to the Senate.

“HR40 is the response of the United States of America, long overdue,” said Jackson Lee. “We are not asking one American to give one payment,” she said, although several university studies put the estimated debt at billions of dollars.

She said the African-American community, which makes up 13.4 per cent of the population, had the right to some of the wealth that their ancestors helped create.

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