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Union-owned bank backs reparations for Black Americans

Union-owned bank backs reparations for Black Americans
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The largest union-owned bank in the U.S. declared on Wednesday that it backs reparations for Black Americans, becoming the first major American bank to do so. 

Amalgamated Bank announced its support for HR 40, a bill that Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeVictims' relatives hold Capitol Hill meetings to push police reform Democrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote House panel approves bill to set up commission on reparations MORE (D-Texas) has proposed that would create a commission to study potential reparations for Black Americans. 

The union-owned bank said in a statement that although it is the first major U.S. bank to back the bill, it is “hopeful we are not the last.” 

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“H.R. 40 is a basic first step to move the country forward in building an equitable economy that creates opportunity for all people to thrive and meet their basic needs,” Lynne Fox, the interim CEO and the chair of Amalgamated Bank’s board of directors, said in a release. 

“We believe H.R. 40 should be the first of many actions to make amends for our country’s long history of racism and ensure a more just future for all Americans,” Fox added. 

Amalgamated Bank called the legislation “an important first step toward justice” but also requested “tangible remedies” for Black Americans as well as an apology from the federal government for slavery’s role in developing the U.S. economy.

The bank acknowledged that the financial industry, including banks, contributed to financial slavery and excluding Black people from financial resources throughout American history. 

HR 40 has been proposed in Congress since 1989 without success, but the overall movement for reparations has gained traction after last year’s Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. 

Amalgamated Bank has previously backed other progressive initiatives, including calling for an end to gun violence and for the minimum wage to rise to $20, CNN reported