Warren Dodges Question on Whether She'd Support Directly Paying Descendants of Slaves

'It's time to start the national, full-blown conversation about reparations,' Warren said

March 18, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) dodged a question at her town hall on Monday about whether she would support reparations through direct payments to descendants of slaves.

Warren, who has previously expressed vague support for reparations, revealed she backed a House bill that would establish a committee to study reparations after a question from an African-American graduate student about the government apologizing for the country's legacy of slavery.

"America was founded on principles of liberty and freedom, and on the backs of slave labor," Warren said. "This is a stain on America, and we're not going to fix that, we're not going to change that, until we address it head-on, directly."

"I believe it's time to start the national, full-blown conversation about reparations in this country," she added.

Warren said she supported the proposed House bill called the "Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act," which would advise Congress on methods to deliver them.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper followed up and asked if that could include "direct payments, direct financial transfer of money." Warren didn't directly answer the question.

"So there are a lot of ways to think about how reparations should be formed, and I noticed [the audience member's] question actually started with the frame of an apology, the frame of a national recognition," Warren said. "We have a lot of experts around the country, a lot of activists who have a whole lot of different approaches to it."

Warren said they could "open that conversation as Americans" because "ignoring the problem is not working."

Former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party's last two presidential nominees, opposed reparations when they ran for the White House. However, the idea is gaining traction in the 2020 primary fight, which has been marked by a race to the left among the top contenders.