Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) claimed the true founding of the United States was not in July of 1776, but in 1619 when the first slaves were sent to the colonies.
During the third round of presidential primary debates on ABC Thursday night, O’Rourke was asked about how he is the “most qualified” candidate to address racial division in the United States, given that he is a white male from a wealthy family.
O’Rourke responded by discussing America’s founding, specifically pointing to August 20, 1619, when the first shipment of slaves arrived in the U.S. The year 1619 has been the focus of a recent series by The New York Times about racism in the U.S.
Clearly a fan of the project, O’Rouke used the debate stage to explain why he believes 1619 is the true founding of the United States, noting that racism is “foundational” in the United States.
Watch O’Rourke’s comments:
“Racism in America is endemic. It is foundational. We can mark the creation of this country not at the fourth of July, 1776, but August 20, 1619, when the first kidnapped African was brought to this country against his will, and in bondage as a slave, and built the greatness and the success and the wealth that neither he nor his descendants would be able to fully participate in and enjoy. We have to be able to answer this challenge, and it is found in our education system, where in Texas, a 5-year-old child in kindergarten is five times as likely to be disciplined or suspended or expelled based on the color of their skin. In our health care system, where there’s a maternal mortality crisis, three times as deadly for women of color, or the fact that there’s ten times the wealth in white America than there is in black America.”
O’Rouke claimed that he would support Rep. Sheila Jackon Lee‘s (D-Texas) bill to further study the idea of paying back Black Americans for slavery, commonly known as reparations.
The former congressman is not the only 2020 candidate to propose reparations. As IJR previously reported, Marianne Williamson also proposed spending $500 billion on reparations to the black community to repay for slavery and discrimination that followed in the Jim Crow era.