Former NFL player and Donald Trump supporter Herschel Walker made his opposition to reparations clear to a House subcommittee on Wednesday (Feb. 17).
“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,” said Walker in the virtual hearing. “Many have died trying to get into America. No one is dying trying to get out.”
Walker joined the discussion in the session of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which debated legislation that would establish a federal commission to explore reparations to Black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved. It was the first time a panel has been held on the subject since 2019.
The late Rep. John Conyers of Michigan first introduced the measure, H.R. 40 in 1989. But it has never received a floor vote in the House. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas reintroduced it in January. Walker, joined conservative commentator Larry Elder, both called as witnesses by Republicans in the hearing, and both having a longtime aversion to the topic.
“Reparations, where does the money come from?” said the Heisman Trophy winner, who played running back in the NFL for the MInnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants -- but started his pro career with the Trump-owned USFL. “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,” Walker continued. “Some Black immigrants weren’t here during slavery, nor their ancestors. Some states didn’t even have slavery.”
But Walker didn’t stop there. He also referenced Jesus Christ as a reason that Black Americans should not receive reparations.
“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.”
Utah Republican Burgess Owens, who is Black, sided with Elder and Walker, calling the reparations hearing “unfair and heartless to give black Americans the hope that this is a reality.”
Jackson Lee criticized Republican lawmakers for selecting two Black conservatives to speak against reparations.
“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.