Herschel Walker says Black Americans shouldn’t get reparations

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Legendary former pro-football running back Herschel Walker on Wednesday led conservative resistance to slavery reparations during a congressional hearing.

Walker, who played in the old USFL and NFL over 15 years, said reparations might require black Americans like himself to use genetics company 23andMe to calculate their pay by percentage of ancestry and he argued African Americans also were involved in the slave trade, which the US abolished in 1865.

Walker, who campaigned for former President Donald Trump last year, said that he opposes reparations for both practical and moral reasons.

“We use black power to create white guilt. My approach is biblical: how can I ask my Heavenly Father to forgive me if I can’t forgive my brother?” the former Dallas Cowboys star told a House Judiciary Committee subcommittee.

“America is the greatest country in the world for me, a melting pot of a lot of great races, a lot of great minds that have come together with different ideas to make Americans the greatest country on Earth. Many have died trying to get into America. No one is dying trying to get out,” he said.

“Reparations, where does the money come from? Does it come from all the other races except the black taxpayers? Who is black? What percentage of black must you be to receive reparations? Do you go to 23andMe or a DNA test to determine the percentage of blackness? Some American ancestors just came to this country 80 years ago, their ancestors wasn’t even here during slavery. Some black immigrants weren’t here during slavery, nor their ancestors. Some states didn’t even have slavery.”

Walker, a 1982 Heisman Trophy winner who started his pro career with the fledgling USFL New Jersey Generals, owned by Trump, also played in the NFL for the Vikings, Eagles and Giants. He was the most famous witness at the hearing for House Resolution 40, which would create a commission to study the issue. The bill is sponsored by Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) quoted attorney Charles Ogletree, who said the final result of the commission “may not be the 21st century equivalent of 40 acres and a mule. The 21st century equivalent, he said, was an SUV and a condo.” Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said that it’s possible reparations would not be financial payments.

Walker, 58, said that he spoke to his mother to get her opinion before the hearing.

“I asked my mom, who is in her mid 80s, her thoughts on reparations. Her words: I do not believe in reparations. Who is the money gonna go to? Has anyone thought about paying the families who lost someone in the Civil War, who fought for their freedom?” Walker said.

The football star said that his mother told him that reparations are akin to the proverb about giving someone a fish rather than teaching them how to fish for themselves.

“Reparation is only feeding you for a day. It is removing a sign ‘for whites only’ and replacing it with the sign ‘no education here,’ ” he said.

Walker also questioned who was at fault for slavery.

“Who is the guilty party? Should we start at the beginning where African Americans sold your African American ancestors into slavery? And to a slave trader who eventually sold African American ancestors to slave owners?” he said.

He concluded: “I feel it continues to let us know we’re still African American, rather than just American. Reparation or atonement is outside the teaching of Jesus Christ.”

Former NFL player Herschel Walker speaks by video feed during the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention broadcast from Washington, U.S. August 24, 2020.
Former NFL player Herschel Walker speaks by video feed during the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention broadcast August 24, 2020.
Republican National Convention/Handout via REUTERS

Jackson Lee said that Black Lives Matter protests last year featured “signs in support of HR 40” and that now is the right time to set up the commission. With broad Democratic support, her bill has a decent chance at passing.

The congresswoman sniped at Republicans for picking two black witnesses — Walker and conservative pundit Larry Elder — to speak against her bill.

“Like our last hearing, the minority has selected two African-American witnesses to speak against HR 40. That is their privilege. But we know that justice, facts and that life that was led and continues to be led by African Americans is on our side,” she said.

Elder told the hearing that blacks should be regarded as a “race of overcomers” and that historical poverty data indicate strides toward equality.

“Despite all the problems that have been brought up in this committee about racism, about slavery, about Jim Crow, black people have overcome to the point now where only 20 percent of black people are below the federally defined level for poverty — still too high, but in 1940 that number was 87 percent and 20 years later that number had been reduced to 47 percent,” he said.

Utah Republican Rep. Burgess Owens, who is black, said reparations would amount to “socialism” and were “impractical.” He said that it is “unfair and heartless to give black Americans the hope that this is a reality.”

“The reality is that black American history is not one of a hapless hopeless race oppressed by a more powerful white race. Instead, a history of millions of middle and wealthy-class black Americans throughout the early 20th century achieving the American dream, Owens said.

The Utah congressman counter-proposed that politicians should “give us back our history” and that “as we accept our lineage as victors, the same history will command the respect of our fellow Americans — an example of how to overcome the most overwhelming odds.”

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