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Edinburgh Law School alumnus testifies at US Congressional House Judiciary Committee hearing

Tue 2 July 2019

Eric Miller

On 19th June 2019, the United States House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties convened a hearing on HR40 and the Path to Restorative Justice.

For over twenty years, members of the United States House of Congress have introduced HR40, a bill to study the feasibility of reparations for the wrongs of slavery and segregation. These forms of racial domination lasted in the United States from 1619 until slavery ended in 1865, which was replaced by racial segregation until 1968. Reparations is the claim that some form of redress is owed the victims of slavery and racial segregation. 

The hearing, which took place on “Juneteenth” (a holiday commemorating the emancipation of slaves in Texas in 1865), was a Eric Millermomentous occasion in the modern history of the reparations movement and examined the subject of reparations to the descendants of slaves as well as “persistent inequalities” faced by black Americans.

The Committee heard testimony from Eric J. Miller, who graduated with an LLB from the Edinburgh University Faculty of Law in 1991, where he specialised in Jurisprudence, Sociology of Law, and Penology. He is now a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, and a member of the team of lawyers who sought reparations for the victims and descendants of a race massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921, when the white citizens of the town, along with the state national guard burned down 35 city blocks, killed between 100-300 African Americans, and rendered 5,000 people homeless overnight.

Professor Miller testified alongside National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates, Hollywood actor and community activist Danny Glover. Drawing on his experience in litigating the Tulsa reparations case, Professor Miller testimony addressed the legal basis for reparations, and the possibility of a detailed, direct, financial accounting for the federal, state, and municipal wrongs done to African Americans during slavery and segregation.