Author Ta-Nehisi Coates on Wednesday delivered an epic smack down of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on reparations for slavery.
In Coates’s opening remarks, he responded directly to McConnell’s claim that the government should not pay out reparations to black Americans because slavery ended more than 150 years ago.
Coates pointed out that the United States was still paying out pensions to the families of Civil War soldiers “well into this century” and he said that the government still honors treaties it signed even though no one who signed them is still alive today.
He also argued that the horrific treatment of black Americans did not simply end after the Emancipation Proclamation.
“When it ended, this country could have extended its hallowed principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all, regardless of color,” he said. “But America had other principles in mind. And so, for a century after the Civil War, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror — a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell.”
He then went on to list racial atrocities that did occur in McConnell’s lifetime.
“He was alive for the electrocution of George Stinney,” he said. “He was alive for the blinding of Isaac Woodard. He was alive to witness kleptocracy in his native Alabama and a regime premised on electoral theft. Majority Leader McConnell cited civil rights legislation yesterday — as well he should, as he was alive to witness the harassment, jailing, and betrayal of those responsible for that legislation by a government sworn to protect them.”
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