FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Reparations Movements Meet To Make International Connections

by

Dignitaries from three continents gathered in New York City recently to sharpen their strategies for confronting some of the world’s most powerful nations over a subject that sizeable numbers of citizens support in the nearly two-dozen nations represented: reparations for the legacy of a history of slavery, colonialism and government-sanctioned segregation.

Those dignitaries, whose number included ambassadors and legislators, along with luminary activists and legal experts, participated in the three-day International Reparations Summit convened by the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, a research, policy and advocacy organization based in the United States.

Dr. Ron Daniels, President of the Institute, stated, “We are delighted that the Institute of the Black World can be a clearinghouse for ideas and strategies on how to pursue reparations for historical crimes and injustices against people of African descent in the U.S. and across the Americas.”

An action in 2013 reenergized reparations activities already operative in the U.S., throughout the Americas, in Africa and in Europe. That is when CARICOM, the organization of Caribbean nations, announced its plans to also mount actions against former European colonial countries for native the slave trade, colonialism and genocide against indigenous peoples. That was the first time that a collection of countries had agreed on taking coordinated action for reparations.

“We have a just cause. And we have a duty to right the wrongs done during the slave trade, slavery and colonialism,” CARICOM representative Dr. Douglas Slater said during the opening session of the Summit. “Today, racism continues to impede development of African peoples all over the world.”

Members of the recently established National African American Reparations Commission participated in the Summit. That African American Commission is composed of 15 people who are respected academic, community, labor, legal and religious leaders. Commission members will expand existing strategies within the U.S. and coordinate with CARICOM and the European Reparations Commission on activities.

The issue of eparations in the United States was described as payment for exploitations and exclusions “during slavery and also during ‘Jim Crow’ –- the century of legalized segregation after the Civil War,” as Kamm Howard explained during a Summit-related interview. Howard is an official with N’COBRA, The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparation in America.

The Summit featured a special recognition honoring U.S. Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich.), who, in January 1989, introduced a measure in Congress to establish a national commission to study the issue of reparations in the United States. However, Congressional leaders –- Republicans and Democrats –-have persistently refused to even allow a vote on Conyers’ measure, which would simply study the issue of reparations, not directly allocate monetary or other compensation.

Iconic civil rights activist, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, blasted America’s state of “denial” regarding the subject of reparations during his keynote address at the Summit’s opening session.

“To limit our history from 1954 [when the U.S. Supreme Court ended legalized segregation] to the present is a sin. The period in the U.S. between 1880 and 1950 was worse than slavery,” Jackson said during his address at the historic Mother AME Zion Church in Harlem.

“There were over 5,000 blacks lynched during that period and many lynchings took place after church on Sunday where whole families would watch the brutality. Lynching was terrorism…political terrorism.”

Efforts by African-Americans to obtain some form of reparations for slavery began in the mid-1800s, initially with demands for land for the freed slaves as compensation for their unpaid labor.

Efforts around the turn of the 20th Century to obtain pensions for ex-slaves never gained much traction in Congress, despite support for such pensions from a few white Congressmen. Federal government opposition to those pensions led to imprisonment of some black leaders of that movement for the pensioning of ex-slaves.

Federal imprisonment was the punishment meted out to the ‘Father’ of America’s modern reparations movement – Imari Obadele. In 1968 Obadele and an older brother of his, delivered letters to the White House and State Department demanding $400-billion in reparations.
That demand for reparations resulted in the FBI targeting Obadele for its infamous COINTELPRO, that illegal covert campaign to crush domestic dissent. Obadele’s federal imprisonment, based on a corrupted conviction, resulted in his 1978 designation as a political prisoner by Amnesty International.

Obadele was among the first group of Americans ever-designated as political prisoners by Amnesty International. (American officials continue to deny the existence of any political prisoners in U.S. jails despite some of those prisoners being still held on COINTELPRO-tainted convictions which were purely political in nature.) Obadele was a founding member of N’COBRA in 1987.

French reparations activists have filed lawsuits and initiated other actions around reparations from deprivations by France in the Caribbean and in Africa. CARICOM nations have established a Reparations Commission to conduct further research to initiate legal and other actions against governments of Britain, France and other European countries that maintained colonies in the Caribbean basin.

Louis-Georges Tin, an anti-racism and reparations activist in France, said he had travelled to the Summit with a delegation from the European Reparation Commission to establish closer connections with other reparations activists.

“We did a survey in 2012 of French Overseas Territories and 63 percent of the population favored reparations,” Tin said. “Before that survey, people told me there was low support for reparations. We are pleased with this result.”

The United Nation’s Conference on Racism held in South Africa in 2001 declared the Atlantic slavery trade and chattel slavery to be a “crime against humanity.”

The administration of then U.S. President George W. Bush refused to send an official U.S. delegation to that 2001 anti-racism conference. The Obama Administration also boycotted the UN’s 2009 racism conference.

 

Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He lives in Philadelphia.

More articles by:

Linn Washington, Jr. is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He lives in Philadelphia.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail