Tag: reparations movement

United Nations Panel Issues Report Stating U.S. Owes Black People Reparations

Verene Shepherd (right), a member of the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, in 2014
Verene Shepherd (right), a member of the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, in 2014. (EVERT ELZINGA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

article by Monique Judge via theroot.com

Colonial history, a legacy of enslavement and segregation are among the chief reasons reparations are owed to African Americans, according to a report put out by a United Nations group (pdf).

The U.N.’s Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, which reports to the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, presented its findings to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday, the Washington Post reports.

The panel, which visited the U.S. on a fact-finding mission in January, wrote in a statement that it was “extremely concerned about the human rights situation of African Americans,” stating that there has been no real commitment to reparations, truth and reconciliation for people of African descent.

Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another, continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of African Americans today. The dangerous ideology of white supremacy inhibits social cohesion amongst the US population.

The panel likened the pattern of police officers killing unarmed black men to lynching, which it referred to as a form of “racial terrorism that has contributed to a legacy of racial inequality that the US must address.”

“Contemporary police killings and the trauma it creates are reminiscent of the racial terror lynching of the past. Impunity for state violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency,” the panel wrote.

The panel also noted that African Americans are disproportionately affected by “tough on crime policies,” mass incarceration, and racial bias and disparities in the criminal-justice system.

During this country visit, the experts observed the excessive control and supervision targeting all levels of their life. This control since September 2001, has been reinforced by the introduction of the Patriot Act. We heard testimonies from African Americans based on their experience that people of African descent are treated by the State as a dangerous criminal group and face a presumption of guilt rather than innocence.

The panel laid out recommendations for the U.S. to assist in “its efforts to combat all forms of racism, racial discrimination, Afrophobia, and related intolerance,” which included the “profound need to acknowledge that the transatlantic slave trade was a crime against humanity.”

“Past injustices and crimes against African Americans need to be addressed with reparatory justice,” the panel wrote.

To read more, go to: http://www.theroot.com/articles/news/2016/09/u-n-panel-says-the-u-s-owes-black-people-reparations/

Georgetown University to Offer Preferred Admissions Status to Descendants of Slaves Sold in 1838 to Save Institution

Georgetown University in Washington, seen from across the Potomac River. The institution came under fire last fall, with students demanding justice for the slaves in the 1838 sale. Credit (Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times)

article by Rachel L. Swarns via nytimes.com

Nearly two centuries after Georgetown University profited from the sale of 272 slaves, it will embark on a series of steps to atone for the past, including awarding preferential status in the admissions process to descendants of the enslaved, officials said on Wednesday.

Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, who will discuss the measures in a speech on Thursday afternoon, also plans to offer a formal apology, create an institute for the study of slavery and erect a public memorial to the slaves whose labor benefited the institution, including those who were sold in 1838 to help keep the university afloat.  

In addition, two campus buildings will be renamed — one for an enslaved African-American man and the other for an African-American educator who belonged to a Catholic religious order.  So far, Mr. DeGioia’s plan does not include a provision for offering scholarships to descendants, a possibility that was raised by a university committee whose recommendations were released on Thursday morning. The committee, however, stopped short of calling on the university to provide such financial assistance, as well as admissions preference.

To read full article, go to: Georgetown University Plans Steps to Atone for Slave Past – The New York Times

Patricia Bayonne-Johnson, Descendant of Enslaved Persons Sold to Cover Debts by Georgetown University Leaders in 1838, Meets with its President to Discuss Amends

Patricia Bayonne-Johnson met with John J. DeGioia, the president of Georgetown University, in Spokane, Wash., on Monday. Ms. Bayonne-Johnson is a descendant of two of the 272 slaves sold by the university in 1838. (Credit: David Ryder for The New York Times)

article by Rachel L. Swarns via nytimes.com

More than a century after Georgetown University used some of the profits from the sale of 272 enslaved African-Americans to help ensure its survival, John J. DeGioia, the university’s president, took a first step on Monday toward making amends to their descendants.

He walked into the public library in Spokane, Wash., for a private meeting with Patricia Bayonne-Johnson, a great-great-great granddaughter of Nace and Biby Butler, two of the enslaved persons who were sold in 1838 to help keep the college afloat.

The 45-minute meeting, which was followed by a lunch at the nearby Davenport Hotel, may well have been a historic one.

More than a dozen universities have recognized their ties to slavery and the slave trade. But historians say they believe this is the first time that the president of an elite university has met with the descendants of slaves who had labored on a college campus or were sold to benefit one.  “I came to listen and to learn,” Mr. DeGioia said in an interview, describing the discussion as “moving and inspiring.”

Ms. Bayonne-Johnson, an amateur genealogist and retired teacher, said she believed Mr. DeGioia was willing to take necessary steps “to honor the sacrifice and legacy” of her ancestors.  “He asked what could he do and how could he help,” she said in an interview. “It was a very good beginning.”

The meeting comes as officials at Georgetown continue to grapple with how to address the college’s complicity in the slave sale. The slaves, who were owned by the Jesuit priests who founded and ran the college, were sold for about $3.3 million in today’s dollars.

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Vanderbilt University Renames Black Studies Research Center After Former Slave and Early Reparations Activist Callie House

Early Reparations Activist Callie House
19th Century Reparations Activist Callie House

The African American and Diaspora Studies Program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, recently renamed its research arm the Callie House Research Center for the Study of Black Cultures and Politics. The center was founded in 2012 and sponsors lectures, conferences, working groups, professional development and academic seminars.

Callie House was born a slave in Rutherford County, Tennessee, in 1861. After she was freed, she worked as a seamstress and washerwoman in Nashville. She became interested in social justice and politics and led the first mass slave reparations movement in the United States. In 1898, she helped found the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association.

Mary Frances Berry, the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, gave the keynote address at the renaming ceremony. Professor Berry is the author of My Face Is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations (Alfred A. Knopf, 2005).

article via jbhe.com

Women’s History Month: Four Unsung Black Women You Should Know

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As with Black History Month, the focus on already well-known figures has been an ongoing criticism of Woman’s History Month. When it comes to black women, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells and Rosa Parks are on repeat. What makes these much-needed theme months thrive, however, is the spirit of discovery. It’s doubtful that the names Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman, Callie House, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin or Johnnie Tillmon even draw a glint of recognition but they should. In their own ways, each of these women made important contributions to the ongoing struggle for freedom and justice.

Even as a slave, Elizabeth Freeman, known as Mum Bett most of her life, had the audacity to sue for her freedom. Born into slavery in Claverack, New York around 1742, Freeman, at a reported six months old, was sold, along with her sister, to John Ashley of Sheffield, Massachusetts, a judge in the Massachusetts Court of Common Pleas. Enslaved to Ashley until she was almost 40, Freeman was spurred to action when the mistress of the house Hannah Ashley tried to hit her sister with a heated kitchen shovel. Freeman intervened and was hit instead, leaving the house, vowing to never come back.

Continue reading “Women’s History Month: Four Unsung Black Women You Should Know”