Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson on Wednesday rolled out her signature reparations plan, which calls for a commission of African-American leaders who would decide how to disburse up to $500 billion in payments to descendants of American slaves “for economic and educational renewal.”
“I want a reparations council made up of 30 to 50 people who themselves are descendants of American slaves – they come from culture, they come from academia, they come from politics. They are people who have a background of deep understanding and research on this topic,” Williamson told CNN’s John Berman on “New Day.” “I have proposed $200 to $500 billion to be disbursed over a period of 20 years. It would be this reparations council that decides how is the money disbursed within the context of the stipulation on the part of the US government that the money is be used for economic and educational renewal.”
Reparations have thus far been a central focus of Williamson’s campaign, and she was the only candidate on stage at CNN’s debate last week to offer a specific financial proposal on reparations for the American descendants of African slaves. But the spiritual book author has so far offered only vague answers as to how such a plan would be financed, and an overview of the plan on the campaign’s website does not address how it would be funded.
“The reason I feel strongly about reparations as opposed to race-based policies is because race-based policies leaves open the question whose fault it is that this economic gap exists,” Williamson told Berman. “With reparations, there’s an inherent mea culpa. It is an acknowledgment of a wrong that has been done, a debt owed and the willingness of a nation to pay it.”
At last week’s debate, Williamson said she believes “anything less than $100 billion is an insult” and that her proposed $200 to $500 billion is “politically feasible today.”
A number of other 2020 Democratic candidates have signaled their support for a House bill that would create a congressional panel to study the possibility of reparations for descendants of slaves, including Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar, as well as South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and former Reps. Beto O’Rourke and John Delaney.
CNN’s Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.