Three of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates—California Senator Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro—have signaled their support for government reparations for black Americans to address centuries of oppression.
During an appearance on The Breakfast Club, Kamala Harris affirmed her support for reparations, pointing to her concerted efforts of investing in HBCUs, and confronting the racial inequalities within the criminal justice system. Harris further reiterated her stance in a statement to the New York Times. "We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities," she explained. "I’m serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities."
Similarly, Elizabeth Warren conveyed her support for government reparations in a statement to the Washington Post, explaining the need to institute "systemic, structural changes" to support black families. The senator focused on her housing plan, which aims to address discriminatory mortgage tactics and provide more low-income renting options for people of color.
"We must confront the dark history of slavery and government-sanctioned discrimination in this country that has had many consequences including undermining the ability of black families to build wealth in America for generations," Warren explained. The senator is also the first candidate to propose reparations for Native Americans, explaining that it's "an important part of the conversation."
Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and Housing Secretary in the Obama Administration, signaled his support for race-based reparations during an interview with The Root. "I have long thought that this country would be better off if we did find a way to do that," he said. "I don't find the notion challenging. What I do find challenging is the best way to do that."
The three candidates' decision to integrate reparations into their campaign platforms—a policy that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders haven't explicitly supported—signals a dramatic shift within the Democratic party. While the party's stances on economic and social issues have gradually shifted to left, the reparations conversation has often sparked heated debate.