BARACK Obama says reparations for all black Americans are "justified" as the "wealth of this country was built on the backs of slaves".
The former president claimed, however, bringing in such a program during his term in office would have been a "nonstarter" because of "white resistance".
He made the comments during the second episode of his podcast series Renegades: Born in the USA with Bruce Springsteen, in which the pair spoke about race relations in the country.
When asked by the rock legend, 71, whether the US is prepared to consider reparations, Obama said: "If you ask me theoretically "Are reparations justified?' the answer is yes.
"There’s not much question that the wealth of this country, the power of this country was built in significant part, not exclusively, maybe not even the majority of it, but a large portion of it was built on the backs of slaves."
Obama added that even after slavery formally ended, "the systematic oppression and discrimination of black Americans" carried on under Jim Crow laws – state and local laws that enforced racial segregation.
The 59-year-old said: "(It) resulted in families not able to build up wealth, not being able to compete, and that has generational effects.
"So if you’re thinking of what’s just, you would look back and you would say the descendants of those who suffered those kinds of terrible cruel often arbitrary injustices deserve some sort of regress, some sort of compensation. A recognition."
Obama went on to say that a proposal for reparations – payments made and programs created designed to help the descendants of slavery – during his presidency would have been met with "the politics of white resistance" and "white resentment".
"The talk of welfare queens and the talk of the undeserving poor and the backlash against affirmative action, all that made the prospect of actually proposing any kind of coherent meaningful reparations program struck me as politically, not only a nonstarter but potentially counterproductive."
Obama's comments came after it was revealed Joe Biden is considering giving black Americans "reparations for slavery" in a bid to tackle racial inequality in the US.
The White House announced last week that the president supports studying whether paying reparations to the descendants of enslaved people is an appropriate remedy.
Biden "continues to demonstrate his commitment to take comprehensive action to address the systemic racism that persists today," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
It's unclear at this time, however, if he would back direct payments to the descendants of enslaved people, or would instead support programs aimed at fixing racial injustices that linger in the country today.
It comes after a Black Lives Matters leader demanded reparations from the government and compared America to "terrorists".
In a heated interview with Fox News last year, Hawk Newsome told anchor Martha MacCallum if she wants to talk about reparations, "nothing falls short of a solution other than people cutting a check."
When it came to who reparation checks would come from, he clarified that it wouldn't come out of "everyday American's pockets."
"We're talking about banks like Brown Brothers Harriman, who benefited from slavery," he said.
"Other insurance companies that sold insurance policies on slaves. We're talking about the American government that was founded on the backs of slaves."
But during the podcast episode released this week, Obama also noted that it was "perfectly understandable" that not everyone may agree with reparations.
He added: "It's perfectly understandable why working class white folks, middle class white folks, folks who are having trouble paying the bills or dealing with student loans, or don’t have healthcare where they feel government has let them down wouldn't be too thrilled with a massive program that is meant to deal with the past but isn’t speaking to their future."
Meanwhile, ex-NFL star Herschel Walker has argued black Americans should not receive reparations because "slavery ended over 130 years ago".
The sporting hero was expressing his opinion during a congressional hearing last week being held for House Resolution 40, which would create a commission to study compensating descendants.
There have been increasing calls from some politicians, academics and economists to pay reparations to an estimated 40million Americans who are descendants of the enslaved, according to Reuters.
During a campaign rally for Biden in October, musician Stevie Wonder said that reparations were needed for black Americans for hundreds of years of unpaid labor.
"Supposedly Juneteenth is a holiday, OK," Wonder said at the rally with Biden and former president Barack Obama.
"I think we can do better than that and I know Joe Biden will do it. Give us the reparations for the work that we've all done for the last 400 years, unpaid!"
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