WE DEMAND Reparations for Black America
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Reparations for slavery is a proposal that some type of compensation should be provided to the descendants of enslaved people in the United States, in consideration of the coerced and uncompensated labor their ancestors performed over centuries. This compensation has been proposed in a variety of forms, from individual monetary payments to land-based compensation related to independence.
In 1865, after the Confederate States of America were defeated in the American Civil War, General William Tecumseh Sherman issued Special Field Orders, No. 15 to both "assure the harmony of action in the area of operations" and to solve problems caused by the masses of freed slaves, a temporary plan granting each freed family forty acres of tillable land in the sea islands and around Charleston, South Carolina for the exclusive use of black people who had been enslaved. The army also had a number of unneeded mules which were given to settlers. Around 40,000 freed slaves were settled on 400,000 acres (1,600 km²) in Georgia and South Carolina. However, President Andrew Johnson reversed the order after Lincoln was assassinated, and the land was returned to its previous owners. In 1867, Thaddeus Stevens sponsored a bill for the redistribution of land to African Americans, but it was not passed.
Reconstruction came to an end in 1877 without the issue of reparations having been addressed. Thereafter, a deliberate movement of segregation and oppression arose in southern states. Jim Crow laws passed in some southeastern states to reinforce the existing inequality that slavery had produced. In addition white extremist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan engaged in a massive campaign of terrorism throughout the Southeast in order to keep African Americans in their prescribed social place. For decades this assumed inequality and injustice was ruled on in court decisions and debated in public discourse.
Reparation for slavery in what is now the United States is a complicated issue. Any proposal for reparations must take into account the role of the newly formed United States government in the importation and enslavement of Africans, as well as that of the older and established European countries that created the colonies in which slavery was legal. Also relevant are their efforts to stop the trade in slaves. It must also consider if and how much modern Americans have benefited from the importation and enslavement of Africans since the end of the slave trade in 1865.
Profit from slavery was not limited to the South: New England merchants profited from the slave trade. In a 2007 column in The New York Times, historian Eric Foner writes:
[In] the Colonial era, Southern planters regularly purchased imported slaves, and merchants in New York and New England profited handsomely from the trade.
The American Revolution threw the slave trade and slavery itself into crisis. In the run-up to war, Congress banned the importation of slaves as part of a broader nonimportation policy. During the War of Independence, tens of thousands of slaves escaped to British lines. Many accompanied the British out of the country when peace arrived.
Inspired by the ideals of the Revolution, most of the newly independent American states banned the slave trade. But importation resumed to South Carolina and Georgia, which had been occupied by the British during the war and lost the largest number of slaves.
The slave trade was a major source of disagreement at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. South Carolina’s delegates were determined to protect slavery, and they had a powerful impact on the final document. They originated the three-fifths clause (giving the South extra representation in Congress by counting part of its slave population) and threatened disunion if the slave trade were banned, as other states demanded.
The result was a compromise barring Congress from prohibiting the importation of slaves until 1808. Some Anti-Federalists, as opponents of ratification were called, cited the slave trade clause as a reason why the Constitution should be rejected, claiming it brought shame upon the new nation....
As slavery expanded into the Deep South, a flourishing internal slave trade replaced importation from Africa. Between 1808 and 1860, the economies of older states like Virginia came increasingly to rely on the sale of slaves to the cotton fields of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. But demand far outstripped supply, and the price of slaves rose inexorably, placing ownership outside the reach of poorer Southerners.
Various estimates have been given if such payments were to be made. Harper's Magazine has created an estimate that the total of reparations due is over 100 trillion dollars, based on 222,505,049 hours of forced labor between 1619 and 1865, with a compounded interest of 6%. Should all or part of this amount be paid to the descendants of slaves in the United States, the current U.S. government would only pay a fraction of that cost, over 40 trillion dollars, since it has been in existence only since 1789.
APOLOGIES RENDERED BUT NO COMPENSATION
On July 30, 2008, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution apologizing for American slavery and subsequent discriminatory laws. Some states have also apologized for slavery, including Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina. Duke University public policy professor William "Sandy" Darity said such apologies are a first step, but compensation is also necessary.
Private institutions and corporations were also involved in slavery. On March 8, 2000, Reuters News Service reported that Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, a law school graduate, initiated a one-woman campaign making a historic demand for restitution and apologies from modern companies that played a direct role in enslaving Africans. Aetna Inc. was her first target because of their practice of writing life insurance policies on the lives of enslaved Africans with slave owners as the beneficiaries. In response to Farmer-Paellmann's demand, Aetna Inc. issued a public apology, and the "corporate restitution movement" was born.[not specific enough to verify]
By 2002, nine lawsuits were filed around the country coordinated by Farmer-Paellmann and the Restitution Study Group—a New York non-profit. The litigation included 20 plaintiffs demanding restitution from 20 companies from the banking, insurance, textile, railroad, and tobacco industries. The cases were consolidated under 28 U.S.C. § 1407 to multidistrict litigation in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The district court dismissed the lawsuits with prejudice, and the claimants appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
On December 13, 2006, that Court, in an opinion written by Judge Richard Posner, modified the district court's judgment to be a dismissal without prejudice, affirmed the majority of the district court's judgment, and reversed the portion of the district court's judgment dismissing the plaintiffs' consumer protection claims, remanding the case for further proceedings consistent with its opinion . Thus, the plaintiffs may bring the lawsuit again, but must clear considerable procedural and substantive hurdles first:
If one or more of the defendants violated a state law by transporting slaves in 1850, and the plaintiffs can establish standing to sue, prove the violation despite its antiquity, establish that the law was intended to provide a remedy (either directly or by providing the basis for a common law action for conspiracy, conversion, or restitution) to lawfully enslaved persons or their descendants, identify their ancestors, quantify damages incurred, and persuade the court to toll the statute of limitations, there would be no further obstacle to the grant of relief.
In October 2000, California passed a Slavery Era Disclosure Law requiring insurance companies doing business there to report on their role in slavery. The disclosure legislation, introduced by Senator Tom Hayden, is the prototype for similar laws passed in 12 states around the United States.
The NAACP has called for more of such legislation at local and corporate levels. It quotes Dennis C. Hayes, CEO of the NAACP, as saying, "Absolutely, we will be pursuing reparations from companies that have historical ties to slavery and engaging all parties to come to the table." Brown University, whose namesake family was involved in the slave trade, has also established a committee to explore the issue of reparations. In February 2007, Brown University announced a set of responses to its Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice. While in 1995 the Southern Baptist Convention apologized for the "sins" of racism, including slavery.
In December 2005, a boycott was called by a coalition of reparations groups under the sponsorship of the Restitution Study Group. The boycott targets the student loan products of banks deemed complicit in slavery—particularly those identified in the Farmer-Paellmann litigation. As part of the boycott students are asked to choose from other banks to finance their student loans."
In 2005, JP Morgan Chase and Wachovia both apologized for their connections to slavery.
In 2008 the American Humanist Association published an article which argued that if emancipated slaves had been allowed to possess and retain the profits of their labor, their descendants might now control a much larger share of American social and monetary wealth. Not only did the freedmen and -women not receive a share of these profits, but they were stripped of the small amounts of compensation paid to some of them during Reconstruction.
The wealth of the United States was greatly enhanced by the exploitation of African American slave labor. According to this view, reparations would be valuable primarily as a way of correcting modern economic imbalances.
Under the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, the U.S. government apologized for Japanese American internment during World War II and provided reparations of $20,000 to each survivor, to compensate for loss of property and liberty during that period. For many years, Native American tribes have received compensation for lands ceded to the United States by them in various treaties. In 2012, according to CNN, the federal government under President Obama settled with thousands of Native Americans as part of a $3.4 billion agreement over a class-action lawsuit claiming government mismanagement of tribal lands and accounts. Further, 40,000 Black farmers who claimed years of racial discrimination from the U.S. Department of Agriculture received $1.2 billion in 2013, as Black Enterprise reported. And in 2015, the Obama administration earmarked $12 million in assistance for European Holocaust survivors living in poverty in the U.S.
Other countries have also opted to pay reparations for past sins. Britain compensated 46,000 slave owners when slavery was abolished in that country, and Haiti was forced to pay reparations to France as the price of independence from the European colonial power. Germany also has paid $89 billion in reparations for Nazi crimes against mostly Jewish victims, according to The New York Times.
Several historians, such as João C. Curto, have made important contributions to the global understanding of the African side of the Atlantic slave trade. By arguing that African merchants determined the assemblage of trade goods accepted in exchange for slaves, many historians argue for African agency and ultimately a shared responsibility for the slave trade.
Only Black people were brought to these shores in chains and only Black people continue to suffer from the protracted, inter-generational deprivation brought about by the badge of slavery. America cannot eradicate racism until it is willing to confront its legacy of enslavement and repair the damage done to people of African descent.
As Germany considers paying for its genocide of 75,000 in Namibia and the CARICOM nations push for reparations from Britain and other European nations to compensate for the lingering effects of the Atlantic slave trade, this stance from America’s first Black president could have a profound impact on the worldwide movement for reparations.
Black people still suffer immensely in the U.S. as institutional racism continues unabated and the wealth gap separating Blacks and whites further expands.
THE MELANATED INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT PROPOSAL
We need to do like the American Indians have done and
(1.) declare ourselves a nation...New Nubia,
(2.) demand land equal to $1.5 million dollars per slave,
(3.) tax-free land status, and
(4.) sue every corporation and international country that was directly or indirectly involved in the North American slave trade of African people.
With the monies raised, we build new self-sustaining Black society that build wealth through job creation and profit-sharing with each business that's allowed into the community zone. This sets up group economics and by default, Black Independence.
- United States of America
MELANATED INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT
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