By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
“Reparations is defined as paying some type of monetary compensation for people who have been wronged.”
A United Nations panel of human rights activist asked the United States government to give reparations to the African-American community, who are the descendants of Black Slaves in America.
The reparation-payments would be intended to repair some of the damage done to the African-American community, through various forms of oppression, which includes:
2. Black Codes.
3. Jim Crow.
4. Sundown Towns.
7. The millions of dollars stolen from former Black slaves, by White bankers, and federal officials at the Freedman Bank, during the reconstruction era.
8. Race riots and the destruction of Black towns like Rosewood, and Greenwood, (popularly known as Black Wallstreet), which was a freedom colony in Tulsa.
9. Domestic White supremacy terrorism via the KKK and other White hate groups.
10. Police brutality and mass-incarceration, which disproportionately affect the African-American community, at a much higher rate the rest of the nation’s population. Even though most Black people are in jail and prison for non-violent drug offenses, White and Black people consume drugs at about the same rates, which means White drug addicts are more likely to get rehab and no jail time, while Blacks are more likely to go to prison.
11. The 13th amendment, which permitted prison inmates (who were and are disproportionately Black), to be used legally as slave labor.
12. Historical and present miseducation by a poorly built and broken school system.
13. Housing and mortgage discrimination.
14. The FBI’s (Counter-Intelligence Program) Cointelpro, using illegal tactics to sabotage the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements. Even going as far as assisting local police departments in assassinating their leaders, like Fred Hampton, who was the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party.
Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, the chairwoman of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent Committee, compared the many incidents of police killings of unarmed Black men to racially motivated lynchings that occurred in the southern region of the United States, during the height of (racial segregation) Jim Crow.
Mendes-France, the daughter of (Martinican writer, revolutionary and philosopher) Frantz Fanon, did not believe individual checks should be given to the descendants of the victims of American slavery and Jim Crow. Rather, she recommended money be spent on programs that could improve the lives of Black Americans educationally, environmentally, and socioeconomically, something akin to a Marshall Plan for the Black community, which could be used economically rebuild the Black community, the same way the United States’ Marshall Plan rebuilt Western Europe after World War 2.
And for the naysayers who believe this could never happen, there is precedence for the United States giving reparations to American citizens:
1. In 1971 ,Alaskan Natives were given one billion dollars and over 40 million acres of land as reparations.
2. In 1980, the Klamath people of Oregon, received over $80 million dollars in reparations.
3. In 1985, the Sioux tribe of South Dakota, received over $100 million dollars in reparations.
4. In 1985, the Seminole people of Florida, received over $12 million dollars in reparations.
5. n 1985, the Chippewas of Wisconsin received over $30 million dollars in reparations.
6. 1986, the Ottawa people in Michigan, received over $30 million dollars in reparations.
Note: the 1866 Indian Treaty between the United states and the five Civilized Tribes-the Choctaw, Creek, Seminole, Cherokee and the Chickasaw: The Five Civilized Tribes, owned Black slaves and fought for the confederacy against the Union Army to maintain Black slavery in America. After the war, the Five civilized Tribes, continued to maintain Black slavery on their land, even after the South lost the Civil War. Eventually forcing the North to come into their Indian territory to free the Black slaves. The 1866 Indian Treaty, the United States signed with the tribes, required them to free their slaves, and stated the legal obligations the tribes had to their Black Freemen and Black Indians. Not surprisingly, when the tribes started to receive federal benefits, like money and casinos, they kicked many of the Black Indians and Freedmen out of their tribes.
7. In 1990, Japanese Americans, who were placed in internment camps during World War 2, received over one and a half billion dollars in reparations.
8. In 2015, President Barack Obama’s administration earmarked $12 million dollars in reparations to be distributed to elderly holocaust survivors.
9. The JUST ACT : Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (just) Act, which was passed Congress, requires money, property, land and other valuables stolen from Jewish people during the holocaust to be returned the people, their heirs, or Jewish organizations.
To this day, African-Americans still have not received one-single cent for the economic, political and social terrorism that has been inflicted on the African-American people through centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, etc. this is a absolute shame, when you think about the fact that many slave owners who stayed loyal to the Union received reparations for the slaves they freed.
Martin Luther King Jr. Quote on Reparations in 1968:
“At the very same time that America refused to give the Negro any land, through an act of Congress our government was giving away million of acres of land in the West and Midwest, which meant it was willing to undergird its White peasants from Europe with an economic floor.
But, not only did they give them land, they built land grant colleges with government money to teach them how to farm. Not only that, they provided county agents to further their expertise in farming. Not only that, they provided low interest rates in order that they could mechanize their farms. Not only that, today, many of these people are receiving federal subsidies not to farm, and they are the very people telling the Black man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.
And this is what we are faced with, and this is the reality. Now, when we come to Washington in this campaign, we are coming to get our check.”
For the people who slavery happened too long ago, Sylvester Magee, who was born around 1841 and died in 1971, was allegedly the last living former slave. Not only that, but the end of the Civil War (1865) and the beginning of the Holocaust (1941) were only about 76 years apart.
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By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Ella Josephine Baker was born on December 13, 1903 in Norfolk, Virginia. She was raised with her parents Georgiana and Blake Baker. At the age of 7, her family moved to her grandmother’s hometown of Littleton, North Carolina, a Small rural town. There she would hear great historic tales of courageous slave revolts, including the story of her maternal grandmother, Josephine Elizabeth “Bet” Ross, who was whipped by her master for refusing to marry a man, her master had chosen for her.
Baker would attend Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she would graduate as class valedictorian in 1927, during her college days, she also built a reputation for standing up against school policies that she believed to be unjust. After college she moved to New York City.
In 1931, Baker would join the young Negroes Cooperative League (YNCL) which was a group dedicated to black economic empowerment, she would soon raise to the rank of national director of the organization.
During the 1930’s Baker worked with the Worker’s Education Project of the Works Progress Administration , there taught classes in labor history, African history and consumer education. She would also immerse herself into the political atmosphere of the time, by protesting Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia and supporting the campaign to free the Scottsboro defendants in Alabama, a group of black youths, she believed were falsely accused of raping two white women. At around this time, Baker began to advocate for nationwide, local activism as a means of achieving political change.
Baker believed grassroots activism did not need charismatic leaders with a messiah complex, instead she believed and taught that the struggle should be fought by we the people in the streets, on a grassroots level.
In late 1940, Baker began working for the National Association for the Advancement of colored people (NAACP), where she first worked as a secretary, then soon began recruiting new members locally, raising money and organizing local events. She rose fast in the organization, and in 1945 was named Director of Branches.
In 1946 Baker returned to New York, to take care of her niece, which forced her to leave her leadership role in the NAACP. She would still continue to volunteer for the organization on a local level. She would soon join the New York chapter of the NAACP, where she worked hard to end segregation in public schools and police brutality against black people. In 1952 she would become president of the New York chapter.
Baker would resign from the organization in 1953 to run for New York City, city council as a member of the Liberal Party, she was unsuccessful in her bid for city office.
In 1957 Baker traved to Atlanta, Georgia to take part in a conference that was supposed to build on the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, in February of that same year, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was formed.
The organization’s aim was to unite black churches and their leaders, who fought against systematic white supremacy in the south, as they used nonviolent protests to fight against systematic white supremacy oppression. Baker was the organization’s first staff member, she soon began to organize voter registration, assist local activists with their local grievances, helping local civil rights activists in states like Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.
In 1960, Baker insisted the SCLC invite southern student protestors, who were having desegregation
sit-ins to Shaw University, for a youth civil rights conference, to discuss their struggles and go over possible solutions with the young activsts in attendance. At this meeting the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was created. SNCC would become the most active civil rights organization in the Delta region of the United States. After the conference, Baker would resign from the SCLC and would become an advisor to the SNCC activsts.
In 1964 Baker would help organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party ( MFDP) which was to be an alternative to the racist and all-white Mississippi party.
From 1962-1967 Baker worked as staff for the Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF) , which was an interracial organization, that fought for social justice issues, human rights and fought against segregation.
In 1972 Baker Traveled the nation to give her support in the “Free Angela” campaign, the objective was to get justice for civil rights activist Angela Davis, whose supporters believed was targeted unlawfully by law enforcement for her political and activism activities.
Towards the end of her life, she still continued to support many causes including the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, she supported many women’s groups and spoke out against the brutally racist South African apartheid regime.
In 1986, on her 83rd birthday she died.
Cornel West thoughts on the great civil rights activist Ella Baker.
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