Every year since 1989, Conyers has introduced House Resolution 40—a reference to the famous order by Union Army Gen. William Sherman that 40 acres of land, largely confiscated from former Confederate slaveholders, should be set aside for the families of former slaves. The bill would create a congressional commission to study the modern legacy of slavery and Jim Crow and propose recommendations—possibly including reparations for black Americans. In all that time, HR 40 has never made it out of committee, but Conyers intends to keep trying. “Slavery is a drawback that people don’t want to have to remember,” he told me. But “the labor and the work product of those that were enslaved goes into the trillions of dollars.”
“Restoring justice requires that we address this thing,” he added.