Author and Democratic Party presidential candidate Marianne Williamson released her first television campaign advertisement on Wednesday morning, titled “Reparations — An Idea Whose Time Has Come.”
During the 60-second video, Williamson is asked why she has decided to make reparations for the descendants of slaves a signature issue in her presidential campaign.
“I’ve been talking about this since my book came out in 1997,” Williamson said. “The first enslaved persons are brought over in 1619. With slavery not abolished until 1865, that is 250 years, followed by another hundred years of institutionalized violence against black people. That’s 350 years of institutionalized violence — that’s longer than this country has been in existence.”
“Paying reparations for slavery will not fix everything, but America will not have the future that we want if we’re not willing to clean up the past, to clean up this original character defect of racism,” she continued. “Whatever it costs, it’s time to do this.”
Williamson became the first 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful to put forward a plan for reparations when she unveiled her sweeping proposal in August. Her plan specifically allocates $500 billion to fund a reparations program and provide “payment of debt that has never been paid.”
The proposal further outlines that the payments would be disbursed over the next two decades. Beneficiaries and their compensation allotments would not be determined by the government, but rather by a “Reparations Council” comprised of a group of African-American leaders “from across the spectrum” who are “descendants of slaves with some scholarly, cultural or political connection to the issue of reparations.”
“When it comes to paying reparations for slavery, on an emotional, psychological and spiritual level, we cannot afford not to,” Williamson’s campaign said at the time. “Until we do, this cycle of violence that began in the 1600s and continues to this day will continue to haunt our psyche.”
Williamson’s plan goes further than do most of her Democratic primary rivals, who have simply endorsed H.R. 40 — a bill that would create a commission to examine the impacts of slavery and discrimination and subsequently develop reparations proposals.
The best-selling author and self-help guru released her first campaign advertisement as her long-shot bid for the presidency has been struggling to gain traction. While Williamson’s third quarter fundraising haul nearly doubled from what she generated during the prior quarter, her support has been so low that she has been excluded from most polling data.
Williamson announced that she was seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency in January 2019 despite having significantly lower name recognition than her primary opponents. However, she began to gain national attention and amass a following of her own after appearing at the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) first presidential debate.
As her campaign gained momentum, she faced increasing criticism over views that the media portrayed as anti-vaccination. She stated earlier in October that she believed “something far more sinister was starting to happen” than the usual scrutiny that political candidates receive, and that the uniform attacks were part of a “well-designated strategy.”
While Williamson appeared in the second primary debate, she has failed to meet the DNC’s threshold to receive an invitation to subsequent debates.