Congressional Action Network Alert: Civil Rights - Participate and Advocate
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Congressional Action Network Alert: Civil Rights

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November 16, 2017


Support H.R.40 for a “Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans”

This bill would establish a “Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans to examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.”


Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich), the longest serving member in the US House of Representatives, has introduced H.R. 40 every year since 1989.  Shortly after Donald Trump was inaugurated, Congressman Conyers said: “I’m not giving up. Slavery is a blemish on this nation’s history, and until it is formally addressed, our country’s story will remain marked by this blight.”  According to Alondra Nelson, president of the Social Science Research Council, H.R. 40 is “a moderate piece of legislation.  Its passage would merely mandate the creation of a commission to study slavery and its present-day impacts and make suggestions about possible remedies.”  The commission would consider a national apology and make a “proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans.”  Rep. Conyers is the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.  If Democrats retake the House in the 2018 elections, Conyers will become Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, in a position to move H.R. 40 to the floor for a vote.  The full text of the resolution is on-line.

House of Representatives Action

See if your elected official in the House of Representatives is already one of the co-sponsors of H.R. 40 (check here).  If so, find an opportunity to thank them for this support and ask them to play a leadership role on this issue in the future.  If not, ask your Representative to co-sponsor H.R. 40. 

Senate Action

Ask your Senator to introduce a companion bill to H.R. 40.  In order to get passed into law, H.R. 40 will need support from the Senate.  Ask your Senator to play a leadership role on this issue and become an original sponsor of a bill that mirrors Representative Conyers historic legislative proposal.


Nelson, Alondra

The Movement for Black Lives (2017)


How to set up a Meeting


For helpful tips about conducting Congressional advocacy, please read the COSSA Handbook Social & Behavioral Science Research Advocacy.


There are two opportunities to learn more about Congressional advocacy at AAA:

Executive Session: Reimagining Political Horizons (3-0228)

Thursday, November 30th, 9am-11:30am

Offsite location: US House of Representatives, Cannon Office Building, Room 121
27 Independence Ave S.E., Washington, DC 20003

Organizer: Eben Kirksey. Chairs: Hugh Gusterson, Emily Martin. Presenters: Bianca Williams, Keenan Keller, Janine Wedel, Gloria Everson, Attiya Ahmad, Cecilia Van Hollen, Jerome Whitington, Vincent Crapanzano, Anne Spice. Discussant: Kathleen Stewart.

Congressional Advocacy 101 (4-0275)

Friday, December 1, 8am – 9:30am, Location: Marriott, Virginia Suite A

Organizers: Agustin Fuentes, Eben Kirksey. Participants:  Nisrin Elamin Abdelrahman, plus House of Representatives staff: Brandon Bragato, Maggie Tyler, and Jonathan Martinez.

This workshop on legislative advocacy will be led by anthropologists with advocacy experience in the US House of Representatives and Senate.  Congressional aides have been invited to give an insiders perspective on the legislative process.


This network emerged from a May 2017 meeting of 23 scholars at the AAA office in Washington DC:

Leith Mullings (The CUNY Graduate Center), Nisrin Abdelrahman (Stanford), Bianca Williams (The CUNY Graduate Center), Anne Spice (The CUNY Graduate Center), Gloria Everson, Harjant Gill (Towson University), Agustín Fuentes (Notre Dame), Susan Terrio (Georgetown), Attiya Ahmad (George Washington University), Kath Weston (University of Virginia), Inderpal Grewal (Yale University), Cecilia Van Hollen (Syracuse University), Alex W. Barker (University of Missouri), Matthew Chrisler (The CUNY Graduate Center), Hugh Gusterson (George Washington University), Eben Kirksey (UNSW Sydney), Alisse Waterston (John Jay College of Criminal Justice), Edward Liebow (AAA), David Machledt (National Help Law Program), Negar Razavi (University of Pennsylvania), Chloe Ahmann (George Washington University), Jeff Martin (AAA), Janine Wedel (George Mason University). 

If you would like to join this emergent network of scholars, please write to Eben Kirksey ( or Harjant Gill (

To learn about other issues, visit the AAA webpage: Anthropologists: Time to Take Action!

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