The struggle for Afrikan American reparations has taken on national organizing proportions.
Organizing groups working to achieve reparations are currently working in NYC, New York, Washington, DC, South Carolina, Philadelphia, PA, Detroit, MI, Chicago, IL, Newark, NJ, Atlanta, GA, Oakland, CA
Houston, TX, Seattle, WA, Los Angeles, CA, among other cities.
Twenty eight city Councils and at least 3 state legislatures (California among them) have passed resolutions in support of HR.40 the reparations study bill authored by senior congressional representative John Conyers of Detroit, Michigan in 1989.
Due to the historical and ongoing social, economic and political inequalities suffered by Americans of Afrikan descent, HR 40 was authored to study and address these inequalities with some solutions.
Due to our peoples experience w/slavery and Jim Crow laws, etc; Afrikan Americans have never really enjoyed education, employment, healthcare, land, home and business ownership to the same levels as American Caucasians.
The HR 40 reparations study (being the controversial subject it is) has been blocked from being voted upon to date. The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee continue to ignore the bill.
Recent good news is that in December 2007 Representative Conyers
convened the long awaited first HR 40 Hearings. The hearings were attended by a broad cross section of activists and reparations experts, many from N’COBRA, who gave testimony as to why Afrikan American
descendents of slaves should receive reparations. Information from RUF surveys was also submitted by NCOBRA attendees.
HR 40 has never been supported by more than 50 congressional members and has no co-sponsoring bill in the Senate.
Strangely enough HR. 40 has never even enjoyed the full support of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).
This is really strange, because there are Caucasian based organizations that wholly support reparations for African Americans.
To date there have been approximately 28 reparations law suits filed and none has been really successful at establishing a case for the plaintiffs to receive any monetary compensation from an individual or corporation.
All cases so far have been dismissed, due to the statue of limitations or lack of legal standing on incidents that occured in the mid to late 1800’s or the early 1900’s.
Some are up for re-consideration but the attorneys representing in these cases are not too hopeful of any victories on this front.
The cities of Chicago, IL and Los Angeles, CA have instituted through the respective City Councils, THE SLAVE BUSINESS ORDINANCE.
These ordinances say that anyone attempting to establish a business relationship with these cities must file an affidavit w/ the city’s business office that says after a thorough self search of the business records,
that, they or any predecessor company tied to them, had no dealings in the slave trade and that their business never profited from slavery.
These records are kept on file in the city’s Business Office and are available for review by interested persons seeking information about a company’s history and or business dealings. If a company is found to have lied on their affidavit and they had business dealings with or profited from slavery, a law suit can be brought against them for damages.
In recent years, at least 6 of the United States have issued formal apologies for slavery, sponsored by their state legislatures, however none have offered any type/kind of monetary compensation to go with the apology. They are Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Alabama, New Jersey and Florida.
In 2003 and 2004 the Reparations United Front (RUF) circulated a survey nationally which yielded 10,000 surveys completed and returned.
This survey was distributed on the East and West Coast and the Midwest in an attempt to determine Black people’s thought on reparations and what they would like to receive as reparations.
In the coming months the survey will be re-circulated in an attempt to get a better set of results. The goal is to get at least 30 to 50 thousand surveys completed.
Nationally, in various organizing efforts, reparations orgs. have mounted at least 25 different reparations education and support websites. Here are a few:
The US Reparations Group,
These are just a few of the 25 of the educational websites supporting reparations.
Currently there are at least 5 organization based newsletter publications advocating for reparations.
Two of them are the National Coalition Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA’s) “Reparations Now” and the National Black United Front (NBUF’s) “FRONTAL VIEW JOURNAL “, educating the public on various aspects of reparations.
Online, there is a daily digest composed by the National Reparations Congress (NRC) out of New York City area that offers various articles on reparations, Black education issues and other news, views and information related to Pan Afrikanism and the Black Liberation Movement.
Conferences on reparations have been and are still being organized nationally and internationally.
Since its beginning N’COBRA has held an annual leadership conference to inform and educate the public and it’s membership on various aspects of reparations.
The NDABAs, organized by NBUFs Conrad Worrill and The Nation of Islam’s Min. Louis Farrakhan Muhammad, were held 4 times in 2003 and 2004 (in various locations in the US) for the benefit of reparations leaders and organizers to plan on what directions to take the movement in and how to move it forward.
In Chicago, city alderwoman Dorothy Tillman has held the National Reparations Convention since the year 2000. This convention is attended by activists from all over the North American continent.
In the Spring of 2004 the Reparations United Front (RUF) in association the Compton Community College BSU, the NRC National Planning Group organized and held the first NATIONAL REPARATIONS CONGRESS at Compton Community College. This conference was designed to have the most national input to create and design a local and national plan on how to get reparations.
The Congress was attended by 52 different organizations from 37 different states.
The PLAN, as it is known, was published and distributed locally and nationally in September-November of 2004.
Reparations and the Black Church.
Unlike the Civil Rights Movement where they were a prominent if not the major player, the Black church is a “missing person” as far as the reparations movement is concerned. Locally when pressed, a few churches have taken a lip service position on supporting reparations, saying they’ll support it in their own way, but will have nothing to do with the local movement. Some have come out totally against it and called reparations supporters crazy, to say the least.
We say we need the Black church to help with various programs we’d like to see instituted in every community like Saturday schools to teach Black youth about their history and heritage.
On the other hand there are only a very few churches that have taken a supportive role for reparations – but none have come out publicly and said straight out that they support the idea of reparations.
The communities these churches are in, have need of the above mentioned programs for youth, but it’s difficult, even getting a spot on the agenda of the Ministerial Alliance to speak with them about this and other ideas we’d like to share.
Some churches will let you have mtgs. but will charge you upwards of a hundred or more dollars for an hour or two.
This is not right.
Most grass roots orgs. are self funded and struggling to stay afloat and work on their various missions.
We’re always looking for like minded institutions to help us along where we can give a donation for mtg. or program time.
The Black church could go a long way in helping their own people’s cause by helping to educate their own congregations on reparations and becoming a united voice speaking in support of reparations.
Bottom line, this reparations movement needs to be represented and have working organizations in every state where people of Black/Afrikan descent live.
Like the NAACP, reparations needs a national movement, to be effective and forward moving on all fronts.
Compiled and written by Daoud J. Khaliq (08-7-08)