HR-40: The National Reparations Movement

Introduction: What is H.R.-40?


H.R.- 40, named after the 40 acres and a mule promised but never given to enslaved people after emancipation, is a bill seeking to evaluate redress possibilities for the United States’ participation in the Atlantic Slave Trade.

The bill calls for a $12MM appropriation to establish and convene a commission to complete redress evaluation

HR-40 Hearings, June 19th 2019

Summary of Legislation

  • The Primary Goals of H.R. 40:
    • Establish a Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans.
    • Examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and U.S. from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.
    • Identify the role of federal and State governments in supporting the institution of slavery.
    • Identify forms of discrimination in the public and private sectors against freed slaves and their descendants
    • Identify lingering negative effects of slavery on living African-Americans and society.
    • Recommend ways to education the American Public about he Commission’s findings
    • Recommend appropriate redress actions 
  • There are currently 90 cosponsors for H.R. 40 of the 116th Congress | 2019-2020.  It is the largest number of cosponsors of the bill, first introduced in 1989.
  • It was introduced the previous year to the 115th Congress | 2018-2019. There were 35 cosponsors, the second largest number of representatives willing to sponsor the legislation since its introduction in 1989.

Link to H.R. 40 Legislation Summary

Link to Full H.R. 40 Legislation

Constitutional Authority Statement for H.R. 40; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 1 (House of Representatives - January 03, 2019)
Congressional Record Link


Representative Sheila Jackson Lee

Sheila Jackson Lee

Representative John Conyers Jr. retired at the age of 88 on December 5th 2017. He had introduced the bill every year since 1989. Three months later, in March of 2018, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee – D. Texas, assumed the role of first sponsor of the bill. Every sponsor on the bill for the 116th Congress is a Democrat.

Support for HR 40

The America Civil Liberties Union Title

The ACLU actively supports H.R. 40 and has a Reparations for Slavery form available online for those willing to urge congress members to also support the bill.

National African American Reparations Commission, ACLU to Host Forum on Reparations June 2019

Other major national organizations supporting reparations for slavery include NCOBRA and National African American Reparations Commission, which are in favor of HR-40.

ADOS [American Descendants of Slavery] Co-founders Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore along with economist and professor William A. “Sandy” Darity of Duke University have helped H.R.-40 gain the national spotlight.

How To Get The Bill Passed

American Civil Liberties Union logo

The best way constituents can work to get HR -40 passed is to contact their members of Congress (MOC) and urge their support for the bill.

The ACLU has developed an automated system for sending these messages of support to MOCs:

MoveOn Logo has also devised an online petition: