"Black folk were largely locked out of this really important social welfare program. It planted a seed for longstanding economic inequality that persists today," says Richard Brookshire, one of the founders of the Black Veterans Empowerment Council.
Brookshire's group is supporting the GI Bill Restoration Act. He knows that the word "reparations" sets off all sorts of heated rhetoric, but he hopes veterans' issues can rise above politics.
"Black vets are the most well-positioned group to push forward the conversation about reparations in this country," he says. "Not only because they've been affected, but because of the ways in which the United States holds up veterans and what they purport to believe veterans are owed."
Paying back these Black veterans involves a concrete number. Researchers at Brandeis University found that the amount owed to descendants of a Black World War II veteran is $180,000. Adjusted for today's dollars, that's how much more white veterans got out of the GI bill compared to Black veterans in 1944.