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Sir Hilary goes to Congress

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Sir Hilary goes to Congress

Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. 18 June 2019—US Congresswoman, Democratic Representative of Texas, Sheila Jackson Lee, has extended an invitation to Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI), and Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, to participate in the decades’ long anticipated, historic sitting of Congress on Reparations.

On Wednesday, June 19, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties will convene a hearing on H.R. 40, the path to Restorative Justice. Keenan Keller, Senior Counsel to the House Judiciary Subcommittee, informed Sir Hilary, “Given your long standing interest in H.R. 40 as a model for legislative action that has positively impacted the Reparations movement in the Caribbean, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, lead sponsor on the bill, would be honoured by your attendance at this momentous hearing.”

Sir Hilary has been a long standing ally of former Congressman John Conyers, who, for over forty years struggled to get a Reparations Bill through the Congress. On several occasions, Sir Hilary and Rep. Conyers addressed the Congressional Black Caucus in an effort to build support in the Congress. Their long history of lobbying has now matured with this hearing.

Sir Hilary noted that it is a special tribute to the leadership of Rep. Conyers, as well as CARICOM, and Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves in particular, who five years ago established the path-breaking Regional Commission on Reparations that has inspired the political movement in the USA. With Reparations taking centre stage in the current presidential debates, there is great anticipation that CARICOM and Congress will work more closely in advancing the cause that has eluded people of African descent for over a century.

Sir Hilary’s participation in the Congress follows his contribution at the British House of Commons in 2014, and his delivery of the keynote address at the sitting of the United Nations General Assembly to

Launch the International Decade (2015 to 2025) for People of African Descent.

Following the hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee, Sir Hilary will join Rep. Lee and actor Danny Glover before delivering the closing address at a public forum where he will place the Congressional event within global perspective.


Background on H.R. 40

H.R. 40, the “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act,” would create a commission to study the history of slavery in the United States and in the American colonies from 1619 to 1865; the role of the federal and state governments in supporting slavery; federal and state laws that discriminated against the descendants of African slaves; other forms of discrimination against the descendants of African slaves; and the lingering effects of slavery on African Americans. 

About The UWI

For the past 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and four campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Asia, and Africa such as the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development, the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. Times Higher Education has ranked The UWI among the top 1,258 universities in world for 2019, and the 40 best universities in its Latin America Rankings for 2018, and was the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.  For more, visit

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)