Author Marianne Williamson’s first television campaign ad of the 2020 election cycle focuses on reparations and will run this week in South Carolina – an early primary state with a crucial black voting bloc.
The Democratic presidential candidate’s three-figure ad – the smallest ad buy of the election cycle – will run in Columbia, South Carolina, starting Wednesday. It is the first presidential campaign ad on reparations, and will mark a rare mention of reparations in a paid advertisement in a state with a large black voting population in the Democratic primary.
“The first enslaved persons are brought over in 1619, slavery not abolished until 1865. That’s 250 years, followed by another hundred years of institutionalized violence against black people,” Williamson says in the video.
“That’s 350 years of institutionalized violence,” she continues. “That’s longer than this country has been in existence.”
“Paying reparations for slavery will not fix everything,” Williamson says. “But America will not have the future that we want if we’re not willing to clean up the past, to clean up this original character defect of racism.”
“Whatever it costs, it’s time to do this,” Williamson says.
Reparations is a central focus of Williamson’s campaign, and the author has proposed providing up to $500 billion in payments to descendants of American slaves. A commission of black leaders – descendants of slaves who have some “scholarly, cultural or political connection to the issue of reparations” – would determine how the money will be disbursed, according to her plan.
Williamson received thunderous applause at the Democratic presidential debate in July when she brought up the issue: “We need to recognize when it comes to the economic gap between blacks and whites in America, it does come from a great injustice that has never been dealt with.” Williamson was the only candidate on the stage to offer a specific financial proposal on reparations, and called her funding plan “politically feasible” and “a debt that is owed.”
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 David Wright and Devan Cole contributed to this report.