In a Tuesday interview with The Root, 2020 White House hopeful and former Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D-TX) argued all Americans must learn the history of slavery before reparations can become a reality.
A partial transcript is as follows:
TERRELL JERMAINE STARR: When asked about reparations, you’ve talked about reforming numerous systems as a start to repairing America’s wrongs to black people. Do you support cash reparations for descendants of American slaves?
O’ROURKE: I think, ultimately, we may arrive at that conclusion. But before we do, I think every single American needs to know the full story of this country.
STARR: That’s a good point. I think there are many people who are familiar, particularly for black people. Since you know the history and the story of America, would you support cash reparations since you know the story?
O’ROURKE: I would support those steps that would allow us to repair the damage done and to stop visiting this kind of injustice on future generations. But I am convinced in a democracy, unless everybody understands the story of this country—and most people do not—you’ll never get to that action or that end result.
STARR: There would be a lot of people, pardon me to interject, there would be a lot of people who would say that a lot of Americans did not understand why Jim Crow was wrong or they didn’t understand why other practices of discrimination or slavery was wrong. So, if you wait on people to get a conscience, then it will never happen. I think that would be the concern that people would have about your desire to tell a story that is pretty much known, but people may not want to hear.
O’ROURKE: I think part of the problem is that not everyone knows that story. In a democracy, unless you have the political will to take a very tough step, you’re not going to be able to do it.