#ReconstructionAgenda

It’s time for us to root out the racism that’s been part of this country since the very beginning. We must confront the question of whether America can fulfill its revolutionary promise and become a democracy that guarantees freedom and justice for all, or whether the price paid for the original sin of slavery and white supremacy must be unceasing misery, poverty, and death.

In his final book, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. confronted this question:
Ever since the birth of our nation, white America has had a schizophrenic personality on the question of race. She has been torn between selves—a self in which she proudly professed the great principles of democracy and a self in which she sadly practiced the antithesis of democracy. This tragic duality has produced a strange indecisiveness and ambivalence… causing America to take a step backward simultaneously with every step forward on the question of racial justice.
We see the antithesis of democracy in the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and David McAtee, in a pandemic that disproportionately infects black and brown communities, and in a White House that schedules a campaign rally in Tulsa, the site of white supremacist terror, on Juneteenth. Still today, we bear witness to an America that will shed blood to cling to power and privilege on the basis of race.

But we also see the democracy America could become in the many millions who march for black lives, each one carrying forward the torch passed on by revolutionaries, abolitionists, and the civil rights movements. After the Civil War, our forebears sought to reconstruct the foundation of the United States, to end the schism in the soul of our country and establish the social, economic, and political rights that a genuine multiracial democracy requires. As King observed, each step forward was met with backlash. White supremacists, having lost the Civil War, wielded violence and terror to end the work of Reconstruction.

Nearly a century later, the civil rights movement ushered in a Second Reconstruction. And again, the old America retaliated, circumventing the newly won legal protections against discrimination with dog-whistle racism, mass incarceration, and a gutting of public programs that all working Americans need to thrive.

Reconstruction is far from finished, so the work continues today. We are heartbroken that decade-after-decade, century-after-century, we witness our brothers and sisters robbed of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But we are still marching, buoyed not only by the legacy of the movements who came before us, but also by our love for our people who, in every generation, have brought us closer to redeeming that revolutionary promise: a true democracy of freedom, liberty, and justice for all who call America home.

It’s time for us to complete the work of Reconstruction and give birth to a new America that belongs to all of us.

America must:

Reconcile With Our History

...by establishing a National Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate, document, and assess the federal government’s role in America’s history of racism.
A federal investigation and commission modeled on the transitional justice approach in Germany, South Africa, and Rwanda.

The purpose of the Commission is to:

1. Foster a national conversation on our government’s history of racial discrimination and oppression,

2. Establish national memorials and curriculum standards to enshrine and pass on the truths of our history,

3. Create an accounting of the harm caused by our government’s policies,

4. Create a proposal for reparations that would rectify the harms that were caused by our government

Get Off Our Necks

...by shifting funding and resources from police departments, jails, and prisons to new agencies designed to protect public health:

Let Us Breathe

All working people will be better off in an America that values black lives. Those who control our democracy and economy benefit from and exploit racism to keep working people divided against each other. If we’re too busy divided and afraid of each other, we can’t come together to create strong programs that take care of us and provide for our families. This is how racism is killing all of us in some way. Our nation has a cruel and underfunded social safety net because too many people don’t want their tax dollars going to help out someone who they think is different from them and “undeserving” of support.

Providing all Americans with the things we need to thrive will help defeat racism and defeating racism will protect policies that provide all Americans with the things we need to thrive. If all of our lives are valued, we can establish economic and social programs that take basic human needs off private, corporate-dominated markets and invest in every single person who calls this nation their home. When we all do better, we all do better.

This is a living document that will evolve over time.

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