Beto O’Rourke previously said he opposed compensatory payment to slave descendants.
While speaking at the National Action Network convention this month, Democratic presidential candidate Robert Francis ‘Beto’ O’Rourke told the crowd of African American activists that he would support Sheila Jackson Lee’s proposed bill for slavery reparations if he were to win the presidency in 2020.
“Absolutely I would sign that into law,” O’Rourke said when Al Sharpton asked if he would support a reparations commission bill from Jackson Lee, D-Houston.
“Foundational to the word ‘reparations’ is ‘repair’. Foundational to repair is the truth,” O’Rourke told activists attending the annual conference of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
“And until all Americans understand that civil rights are not just those [historic] victories… but the injustices that have been visited and continue to be visited on people, we will never change that we need to live up to the promise of this country.”
That is a complete contradiction of what O’Rourke told an audience in Iowa last month saying that he was not in favor of traditional reparations for African Americans, a position he was later confronted on during a stop in South Carolina.
“Why should I, as a black man, vote for you when you oppose reparations?” a man asked O’Rourke, according to Mediaite.
U.S. News reported:
O’Rourke replied with a long answer arguing that making institutional changes like eliminating voter identification laws and gerrymandering would “begin … to get some of that repair.”
Sharpton’s question came after O’Rourke addressed hundreds of NAN attendees in New York City.
“I appreciate the woman who asked me to say yes or no,” O’Rourke said. He then referenced social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson. “He said foundational to reparations is the word repair. Foundational to repair is the truth, and until all Americans understand that civil rights are not just those victories that I began with at the outset of my comments but the injustices that have been visited and continue to be visited on people, we will never get the change we need to live up to the promise of this country. So absolutely I would sign that into law.”
While this is the first time O’Rourke has taken a position on Lee’s legislation, he never explicitly committed to supporting direct monetary payments. This posture signals he’s at least now open to considering some form of reparations.
The issue has become a flashpoint in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.
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