A trio of congressional lawmakers are seeking to resurrect legislation that provides financial benefits to the descendants and spouses of black veterans who fought in World War II and who were excluded from the aid outlined in the original GI bill.
Rep. Seth moultonSeth MoultonHow Lawmakers Helped Evacuation From Afghanistan Republican Lawmaker Says He Didn’t Threaten US Embassy Staff In Tajikistan House Panel Approves Defense Budget Boost B MORE (D-Mass.), A Navy veteran who served four tours in Iraq and the author of the proposal, presented it to the House last week with House Majority Leader James Clyburn (DS.C.).
Georgia Senator Raphael warnockRaphael WarnockGingrich backs Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race Sununu exit underscores GOP’s uncertain path to Senate majority GOP Senate fears Trump may derail Majority nomination MORE (D) is scheduled to introduce the legislation in the Senate on Thursday.
“We all know that the GI Bill raised a generation of WWII veterans and built the American century,” Moulton said in a statement.
“Most Americans,” Moulton added, “don’t know that a lot of black veterans were excluded: they were denied benefits, they were denied homes, they were denied the generational wealth that comes from going to college. We can never fully repay those American heroes. But we can fix this in the future for their families. ”
Formally known as the Military Readjustment Act of 1944, the bill enacted by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt provided the millions of soldiers returning home from WWII with considerable financial help to advance their lives. as civilians, whether for college or to buy. your first home.
However, because the process to receive benefits went through the local Veterans Affairs offices, many black soldiers, especially in Jim Crow South, were never able to access the help they deserved.
The legislation is named after a pair of black veterans of the WWII era: the sergeants. Isaac Woodard, Jr. and Joseph Maddox.
Woodward, a native of Winnsboro, SC, was traveling home after being honorably discharged when a local police chief forcibly removed him from the bus he was traveling on.
The officer brutally beat Woodward, who was still in uniform, with his baton, permanently blinding him.
Woodward’s mutilation led to former President Harry Truman joining the country’s army in 1948.
Maddox’s local VA office denied him tuition assistance after he was admitted to a Harvard master’s program.
The proposed legislation extends the VA Loan Guarantee Program and post 9/11 GI Bill educational assistance to “the surviving spouse and certain direct descendants of black WWII veterans alive at the time of the promulgation of the bill “.
It also orders that a panel be established to study “inequities in the distribution of benefits and assistance administered to women and members of minorities” of the armed forces.
“We all know that the fastest way to build wealth is through education and home ownership. Many black families were denied this path to the middle class, ”Clyburn added in the statement.
“It is important to recognize this injustice and help address the wealth gap that was compounded by the government’s failure to deliver on this promise to veterans of color from World War II.”
The gap in home ownership between white and black families is one of the starkest wealth disparities in the US.
According to the Census Bureau, non-Hispanic white families had a homeownership rate of 74 percent, while black families had a rate of only 44 percent.