The witnesses, who primarily consisted of university professors, directly blamed financial institutions for the wealth disparity between white and black Americans while offering several solutions to bridge the gap and atone for their involvement.
Democratic Representative Al Green from Texas argued that the wealth and success of U.S. banks were "built on the backs of enslaved people."
William Darity, a professor of public policy at Duke University, agreed with Green's sentiment and stated that the slave trade significantly contributed to the growth of the financial industry.
"The collective amount required to close the disparity for approximately 40 million black American descendants of persons enslaved in the United States will come to at least $14 trillion," Darity said. "This is a sum that cannot be met reasonably by private donors or other levels of government."
Assistant professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Dania Francis, suggested that banks allocate resources to studying the impact of their role in slavery-era activities.
Acting vice president of the Inclusive Economy Center for American Progress, Lily Roberts, said financial institutions need to invest in "programs to redress past wrongs."
"Financial institutions are fully capable of learning their own history and understanding their own roles in past injustice," Roberts said. "Next, they must work to ensure that they counter contemporary wrongs and avoid the easier instinct to think of historical context as separate from current circumstances – and be held accountable in doing so by the federal government, by shareholders, and by customers."
Dr. Sarah Federman, associate professor at the University of San Diego's Kroc School of Peace Studies, suggested providing three generations of black Americans with free higher education and investing in the economic development of black communities.
"We are not pursuing criminal justice, but transitional justice through which institutions differentiate themselves from a prior criminal regime by addressing the harm and committing to ethical behavior going forward," Federman said. "Most financial institutions that profited from slavery have not done this work."
"When legacy corporations continue profit from their heritage brand and strength due to ill-gotten gains but do not participate reckoning work, they continue their complicity with the prior regime," she claimed.