After more than 400 years, US Congress finally apologises for slavery

Publié le par hort

As the evildoers come to realize that their reign is coming to an end, some are now trying to correct past wrongs but isn't it too late? That is the question. As the bible so aptly puts it, "Has the door already been closed?” Hort




The National Coalition Of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) applauds the efforts of Tennessee Democratic Representative, Congressman Steve Cohen for his commitment to making a reality, the 29 July 2008 U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of H. Res. 194, entitled “Apologizing for the Enslavement and Racial Segregation of African Americans.”  N’COBRA also applauds the tenacity of Judiciary Committee Chairman, Detroit Michigan Congressman John Conyers Jr., for making it possible for this historic vote to take place.  


Congressman Cohen has been a consistent co-sponsor of H.R, 40, which has been introduced every year since 1989 by Congressman John Conyers.  H. Res. 194 is an important and momentous step on the road to victory, as were the state level “statements of profound regret.”  However, Reparations activists and supporters must be mindful that apologies alone without action to correct the injuries resulting from the perpetrator’s crimes are disingenuous.  Full acknowledgement of the conduct that caused the death and destruction of our African ancestors, and continues to inflict injuries to African descendants in the U.S. is imperative, and material reparations to compensate the descendants of formerly enslaved Africans must remain our ultimate goal.   


We must never forget that the struggle for reparations for the Holocaust of Enslavement of African people is about fundamental issues of human freedom, human justice and the value we place on human life in the past as well as in the present and future.  After 246 years of enslavement--the greatest atrocity in American history; 100 years of Jim Crow; and the ongoing affects of racial discrimination, African descendants efforts to obtain reparations remain morally just, as African life is equally of value, as are the lives of other groups that have obtained reparations both inside and outside the US, and whose causes the US has supported and continues to support, including Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust, Japanese Americans interned in WWII US concentration camps, Alaska Natives for land, labor, and resources taken, Native Americans for violations of treaty rights, political dissenters and their descendants  in Argentina, and to Colombia for excising the territory of Panama for the purpose of building the Panama Canal.  With such precedents of reparations to primarily non-Black peoples, it would be sheer racism for the US to continue ignoring this brutal era in American history, and the African descendant morally just claim for Reparations.


In keeping with the principles of both international human rights law and domestic law, and with a clear understanding of the factual and moral justification for our claim, we must continue to seek remedy for damages from the US government, as the dehumanization and atrocities of slavery were not isolated occurrences.  Rather they were mandated by formal laws codified and even enshrined within the U.S. Constitution.  The role of the federal government in supporting the institution of slavery and subsequent discrimination directed against the descendants of formerly enslaved Africans must be formally acknowledged and redressed. 


N’COBRA remains supportive of the passage of HR 40 to establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery, the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, and to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies.  Passage of H. Res. 194 is a precursor to the passage of HR 40 which will:


    Facilitate a national dialogue about an era in US history that has largely been ignored or down-played.

    Demonstrate the link between chattel slavery and the current social, health, economic and political status of African descendants and therefore destroy the myth of White Supremacy.

    Recognize the link between chattel slavery and present day race relations, and enable the amelioration of racial discrimination in America. 

    Acknowledge the massive human suffering and the tragic plight of millions of African descendant men, women and children during slavery to demonstrate the sacredness of African life, specifically, and all human life in general.   

    Allow United States' residents to make peace with a significant part of this country's shameful past, and end the intergenerational trauma of its current effects.

    Demonstrate to the world, the United States’ commitment to peace and justice, and the same human rights standards to which it seeks to hold other nations. 


Finally we must be mindful that these more recent milestones on the road to victory would not have been possible, were it not for the Reparations activists and supporters who have remained on the battlefield for decades.  Hold on Brothers and Sisters.  The light at the end of the tunnel draws near.  The Power To Win Reparations Is In Our Hands!


Obama opposes reparations for slavery

 By Christopher Wills,

Associated Press Writer

Sat Aug 2, 2008


Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama opposes offering reparations to the descendants of slaves, putting him at odds with some black groups and leaders. The man with a serious chance to become the nation's first black president argues that government should instead combat the legacy of slavery by improving schools, health care and the economy for all. "I have said in the past — and I'll repeat again — that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed," the Illinois Democrat said recently. Some two dozen members of Congress are co-sponsors of legislation to create a commission that would study reparations — that is, payments and programs to make up for the damage done by slavery.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People supports the legislation, too. Cities around the country, including Obama's home of Chicago, have endorsed the idea, and so has a major union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Obama has worked to be seen as someone who will bring people together, not divide them into various interest groups with checklists of demands. Supporting reparations could undermine that image and make him appear to be pandering to black voters. "Let's not be naive. Sen. Obama is running for president of the United States, and so he is in a constant battle to save his political life," said Kibibi Tyehimba, co-chair of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. "In light of the demographics of this country, I don't think it's realistic to expect him to do anything other than what he's done."


But this is not a position Obama adopted just for the presidential campaign. He voiced the same concerns about reparations during his successful run for the Senate in 2004. There's enough flexibility in the term "reparations" that Obama can oppose them and still have plenty of common ground with supporters. The NAACP says reparations could take the form of government programs to help struggling people of all races. Efforts to improve schools in the inner city could also aid students in the mountains of West Virginia, said Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP's Washington bureau. "The solution could be broad and sweeping," Shelton said.


The National Urban League — a group Obama addressed Saturday without mentioning the issue in his speech — avoids the word "reparations" as too vague and highly charged. But the group advocates government action to close the gaps between white America and black America. Urban League President Marc Morial said he expects his members to press Obama on how he intends to close those gaps and what action he would take in the first 100 days of his presidency. "What steps should we take as a nation to alleviate the effects of racial exclusion and racial discrimination?" Morial asked.


The House voted this week to apologize for slavery. The resolution, which was approved on a voice vote, does not mention reparations, but past opponents have argued that an apology would increase pressure for concrete action. Obama says an apology would be appropriate but not particularly helpful in improving the lives of black Americans. Reparations could also be a distraction, he said. In a 2004 questionnaire, he told the NAACP, "I fear that reparations would be an excuse for some to say, 'We've paid our debt,' and to avoid the much harder work." Taking questions Sunday at a conference of minority journalists, Obama said he would be willing to talk to American Indian leaders about an apology for the nation's treatment of their people. Pressed for his position on apologizing to blacks or offering reparations, Obama said he was more interested in taking action to help people struggling to get by. Because many of them are minorities, he said, that would help the same people who would stand to benefit from reparations.


"If we have a program, for example, of universal health care, that will disproportionately affect people of color, because they're disproportionately uninsured," Obama said. "If we've got an agenda that says every child in America should get — should be able to go to college, regardless of income, that will disproportionately affect people of color, because it's oftentimes our children who can't afford to go to college." One reparations advocate, Vernellia Randall, a law professor at the University of Dayton, bluntly responded: "I think he's dead wrong."  She said aid to the poor in general won't close the gaps — poor blacks would still trail poor whites, and middle-class blacks would still lag behind middle-class whites. Instead, assistance must be aimed directly at the people facing the after-effects of slavery and Jim Crow laws, she said.  "People say he can't run and get elected if he says those kinds of things," Randall said. "I'm like, well does that mean we're really not ready for a black president?"


Publié dans African diaspora

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