Concerned about the plight of black people in her Missouri district, a Democratic state senator on Tuesday called for reparations for former slaves and criticized her own party for taking African-American votes for granted.
Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, criticized white Democrats, such as U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, saying there's "no difference" between them and Republicans. Both parties, she said, have failed black people.
“Neither one of them give a heck about the black community, only the votes," Chappelle-Nadal said.
Speaking on the Senate floor during a debate on a tax bill, Chappelle-Nadal said she was motivated by the calls and emails she receives about her constituents' needs.
“When I’m getting a single mother of three children calling me trying to find a place to live because they don’t have a place to live, that’s what’s on my mind today and every single day," Chappelle-Nadal said.
Chappelle-Nadal spoke against the use of tax benefits for corporations in the hopes they'll hire people, saying they don't benefit people in her district. Black children in her district, she said, may not have food or stable families but are expected to learn in school despite coming from unequal footing.
One thing that would help, she said, is reparations. Chappelle-Nadal said her family members were slaves in mid-Missouri.
“In Boone County, Missouri, in Callaway County, Missouri — what my family contributed to making the state what it is today is incredible, and my family deserves way more than what it is getting today," Chappelle-Nadal said.
She didn't expect any legislation supporting reparations would be successful. In 2016, a United Nations working group suggested the U.S. consider reparations for slavery.
Chappelle-Nadal said she'd like to see McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, fight for reparations. Her constituents, she said, see McCaskill as similar to Republicans.
Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, said Chappelle-Nadal was entitled to her opinion, but she thought McCaskill had been fighting for black people's interests on issues like health care, protection for veterans and student loans.
"I support Sen. McCaskill, 150 percent," Nasheed said.
Nasheed questioned why critics would lob complaints at McCaskill six months before Election Day as she seeks her third term. She faces a tough race against likely Republican nominee Josh Hawley, the Missouri attorney general.
McCaskill's campaign did not return a request for comment.