Last updated on: 11/13/2023 | Author:

Should the Federal Government Pay Reparations to the Descendants of Enslaved People?

Reparations are payments (monetary and otherwise) given to a group that has suffered harm. For example, Japanese-Americans who were interned in the United States during World War II have received reparations. Many believe the descendants of enslaved people should receive some form of reparations. For more on reparations, explore the ProCon debate.

PRO (yes)


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.:

“When you ask me about reparations, I’ve got to tell you one other thing. I spend 20% of my time representing Indians during my [law] career in the United States and in Latin America and Canada. And a lot of Indian tribes at that point were getting gambling and there would be arguments, fights within the tribe: how do you distribute the gambling money through you. And the traditional chiefs would say do not give it in cash payments. Because… this money belongs to the entire community over the generations and it should be distributed that way. And what we saw is the tribes that put it into institutions like clinics, scholarships, business loans, micro loans, factory building, building factories, those things, those tribes really flourished, the community flourished and that sense of community was right. And all the tribes that did cash payments was a catastrophe.

So, I would be against cash if there was no other issue. I would be against cash payment reparations but the word reparation means repair and you know I grew up in Jim Crow and I saw this was not just. That the injury did not end with slavery. The injury and the deliberate suppression, the institutionalization of poverty in Black neighborhoods is… systemic and it continues today in a million different ways. And we need to rebuild them, the Black communities.”


MATH HOFFA, “Let’s Talk Reparations!!! RFK Jr. Debates on This Unspoken Topic,”, July 27, 2023

CON (no)


Vivek Ramaswamy:

“Look, I think there was a time and place for reparations, back in 1870, right after the Civil War ended. That moment has passed. And now if we keep on looking backward, I don’t think we’re going to find a way to move forward as a country…. If you think about it there are going to be all kinds of implementation issues. Who counts as Black? You’re gonna have a lot of people who claim to be Black, who in the strict sense really ought not have been included in this program. Even the kids of immigrants who came over in the 60s or 70.

But even if you put the implementation issues aside, what does this really do? It creates an incentive structure for people to compete to be a victim. What about Japanese Americans whose parents or grandparents were in internment camps? Jewish Americans who’ve experienced discrimination. We get into this victimhood olympics. And there is no gold medalist in America’s victimhood olympics. There is only one loser in the end, and that is America. And that’s where this discussion takes us, as looking backward instead of looking forward which is where we need to go.”


America Reports, “Vivek Ramaswamy: Racial Reparations Create an Incentive Structure to Compete to Be a Victim,”, Feb. 9, 2023


Donald Trump:

“I don’t see it happening…. I think it’s a very unusual thing. You have a lot of — it’s been a very interesting debate. I don’t see it happening, no.”


Jordan Fabian and Saagar Enjeti, “Exclusive: Trump on Reparations: ‘I Don’t See It Happening,'”, June 24, 2019

Not Clear or Not Found

Joe Biden

Biden “supports a study of reparations and the continued impacts of slavery but he is very clear that we don’t need a study to advance racial equity…. He is taking comprehensive action to address the systemic racism that persists today, including an executive order on his first day in office establishing a whole-of-government approach to addressing racial inequality and making sure equity is a part of his entire policy agenda.”

Editors’ Note: The above statement was made via a White House official to ABC News.


Beatrice Peterson, “Advocates Call on Biden to Act on Reparations Study by Juneteenth,”, June 17, 2023

Doug Burgum:

No position as of Sep. 7, 2023.

Chris Christie:

No position as of Oct. 17, 2023.

Ron DeSantis:

No position as of Sep. 7, 2023.

Nikki Haley:

No position as of Sep. 7, 2023.