Fiery debate has erupted at the first congressional hearing in a decade to explore whether the descendants of US slaves should be compensated.
Some witnesses said reparations would damage the relationship between white and black Americans, while others said it was imperative to achieve justice.
Several Democratic White House hopefuls have taken up the idea of reparations.
But Republican leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear no reparations bill will pass while he controls the Senate.
The House of Representatives judiciary subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights and civil liberties said Wednesday’s hearing would examine “the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice”.
Lawmakers considered a bill proposed by Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson-Lee to set up a commission to study the question of reparations for slavery.
Republican witness Coleman Hughes, an African-American writer and New York student, argued during the hearing that such restitution “would insult many black Americans by putting a price on the suffering of their ancestors”.
The hearing was held on Juneteenth, which commemorates 19 June 1865 when Texas slaves finally learned they were free, two-and-a-half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.