February 25, 2021

Representative Barbara Lee and Senator Cory Booker Reintroduce Legislation to Form Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Commission

Washington, D.C. ––Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced the reintroduction of their legislation calling for the establishment of the first United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT). The Commission will examine the effects of slavery, institutional racism, and discrimination against people of color, and how our history impacts laws and policies today.

“Inequality, systemic racism, and white supremacy are at the heart of every crisis we’re facing right now – the COVID-19 public health crisis disproportionately impacting communities of color, the crises of police brutality and mass incarceration, the crisis of poverty, and much more,” said Congresswoman Lee. “We’ve made substantial progress, but the legacy of systemic racism clearly shows that the chains of slavery have yet to be broken. This commission will educate and inform the public about the historical context for the current racial inequalities we witness each and every day, and usher in a moment of truth.”

“To realize our nation’s promise of being a place for liberty and justice for all, we must acknowledge and address the systemic racism and white supremacy that have been with us since our country’s founding and continue to persist in our laws, our policies and our lives to this day,” said Senator Booker. “The first ever congressional commission on truth, racial healing, and transformation will be a critical compliment to other urgent legislative efforts, like S.40, which would establish a commission on reparations. Together, these proposals are a necessary step in beginning to root out systemic racism in our institutions, creating proposals for addressing and repairing for past harm, and building a more just nation for every American.” 

“Our nation is at a moment of racial reckoning,” said Dr. Gail C. Christopher, executive director of National Collaborative for Health Equity. “The Covid-19 pandemic’s economic, mortality and morbidity inequities are providing an unprecedented environment where the nation can transform systems to address equity and fairness. Due to the threat of domestic terrorism, as evidenced on January 6, racial healing is now imperative for protecting our national security. Unifying and healing America must be accomplished through TRHT - a coordinated multi-sector, intergovernmental effort, embedded in and led by local communities. TRHT can provide local leadership and diverse civic, civil and human rights organizational support at this critical time.”

“Today, our nation faces its greatest challenge in the past century, not only about equity and fairness but also about our country’s national security,” said Wade Henderson, Interim President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.“The longstanding and persistent threat of violent white nationalism, disparities and racial discrimination exposed by COVID19 and rampant police brutality are the fruit of a poisonous tree of slavery, and structural racism and discrimination. That tree – the tree of racism writ large – must be destroyed root and branch. That is why we support the creation of a U.S. Commission for Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation as well as H.R. 40. The Commission would help ensure reparations are central to this country’s transformation and create systemic change. Together, we must confront and reject the big lie of white supremacy and forge a shared vision for a country as good as its ideals.”

This legislation is supported by a broad coalition of members of Congress and community partners, and works in conjunction with H.R. 40, legislation introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) — a cosponsor of Rep. Lee’s Truth legislation — to form a commission to study and develop reparations.  

Earlier this month, Senator Booker and Representative Lee re-introduced their bicameral Confederate Monument Removal Act. The legislation would remove all statues of people who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America from the National Statuary Hall Collection.  

This resolution has been endorsed by over 240 organizations and individuals, including Breathe with Me Revolution, Leadership Conferences on Civil Rights and Human Rights, and the NAACP.  For a full list of organizations, click here.

The full text of the resolution can be found here

Current list of House Co-Sponsors (100): Reps. Barroragán, Bass, Beatty, Bishop [GA], Blumenauer, Blunt Rochester, Bowman, Boyle, Brown, Brownley, Bush, Butterfield, Carson, Casten, Castro, Cicilline, Clark, Clarke, Connolly, Cooper, Crow, Davis [IL-7] Dean, DelBene, Demings, DeSaulnier, Dingell, Eshoo, Espaillat, Evans, Garcia [IL], Garcia [TX], Gomez, Green [TX], Grijalva, Hastings, Hayes, Horsford, Jackson Lee, Jacobs, Jayapal, Jones, Johnson [GA], Kelly [IL], Khanna, Kildee, Kilmer, Kim [NJ], Kirkpatrick, Krishnamoorthi, Lawrence, Levin [CA], Levin [MI], Lieu, Lowenthal, Maloney [NY-12], Maloney [NY-18] Matsui, McCollum, McGovern, McNerney, Meeks, Meng, Moore [WI], Napolitano, Neguse, Norton, Pallone, Panetta, Payne, Pingree, Pocan, Porter, Pressley, Quigley, Raskin, Ross, Rush, Ryan, Sánchez, Sarbanes, Schiff, Schakowsky, Sherrill, Sires, Smith [WA], Soto, Speier, Stevens, Suozzi, Takano, Thompson [MS], Tlaib, Tonko, Trone, Watson Coleman, Vargas, Veasey, Williams [GA], Yarmuth

Current list Senate Co-sponsors include: Ed Markey (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Coons (D-CT), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL)