Friday, December 30, 2016 || By Lee Edwards for Austin Weekly News || @maywoodnews
State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (8th) may not represent Proviso Township, but he’s calling on citizens from all over the state to sign a petition to “urge President Obama to establish a study on the impact of slavery in America.”
The petition is designed to leverage support for a house resolution with a recommendation similar to that in the petition.
“I think [a study of slavery’s impact] will help with the first black president of the United States to leave a legacy of having the history of slavery being told in America the right way,” said Ford in a recent interview. “Of course, [Barack Obama] doesn’t have slave blood. His wife and two daughters have slave blood. The tragedy of slavery in this country has been misunderstood.”
Ford sponsored House Resolution 1011 in the Illinois General Assembly, which calls for outgoing President Barack Obama to commission a study on the economic impact of slavery in the United States and analyze how paying reparations affects other ethnicities, among other actions.
The resolution, which passed the Illinois House of Representatives in June, was co-sponsored by West Side state Rep. Camille Y. Lilly (78th) and several other legislators. Currently, however, the measure doesn’t have a senate co-sponsor nor has it been brought to the senate floor for consideration.
In order to leverage support for the resolution, Ford recently started the online petition on the White House’s website urging the president to establish a study on slavery’s impact in America. Currently, Ford’s petition, which was launched on Dec. 6, has fewer than 1,000 signatures. White House online petitions set a standard goal of 100,000 signatures within 30 days. Ford’s petition closes on Jan. 4.
Ford said he hasn’t received much support from many African American elected officials or community partners, but he believes that will change once the public is made aware of his petition.
Petition or no petition, though, Ford insisted that he’ll keep pressing the issue.
“I’m going to continue to push this until the story is told in America about the impact of slavery,” said Ford. “We can talk about crime bills and all sorts of things, but until we find out what causes the problems in the black community, we’re never going to be as great as we could be in America.”
Ford said the study is “perfectly timed,” because the incoming Trump Administration would be in a prime position to complete the study. He stated the new administration’s attention on this issue could be one of many ways to recognize and support the various concerns facing the African Americans community.
Reparations to minorities in the United States is not unprecedented. For instance, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which acknowledged and apologized for the wrongful internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The legislation created an education fund for the purpose of educating the public about the wrong and issued $20,000 checks to survivors of the camps. VFP