By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill (August 23, 2002)


            The Millions For Reparations Mass Rally held in Washington, D. C. on August 17, 2002, the 115th anniversary of the birth of the Honorable Marcus Garvey was a grand success.

            It was a grand success because more than 50,000 African people, from 66 cities, representing 38 states, participated in the first historic rally and demonstration, singularly focusing on the issue of reparations and demanding reparations from the United States Government that “They Owe Us!”

            Thousands more African people who were unable to attend the rally participated in their local areas by passing out flyers, putting up posters, participating in local reparations rallies and forums, and helping to raise money to support this historic event. The Millions For Reparations Mass Rally was called by the Durban 400, led by the December 12th Movement, based in Brooklyn, New York and the National Black United Front, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

            Last summer, the Durban 400 (382 Black people from throughout the United States) participated in the United Nations World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) that was held in Durban, South Africa, where more than 15,000 people attended from more than 160 countries. Our participation in the WCAR centered around lobbying the governments of the world to include in the language of the conference’s final document that the “Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, Slavery and Colonialism were Crimes Against Humanity” and that Reparations were owed to the African continent and African people in the Diaspora.

            In lobbying the Africa Group (representing 53 African countries) and working with the African Non-Governmental Organizations, we were successful in helping impact the WCAR to include in the Durban Declaration that the “Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, Slavery and Colonialism were Crimes Against Humanity” and African people were owed Reparations.

            It was suggested, in Durban, that we should take advantage of the momentum generated by the worldwide discussion on the question Reparations ignited at the WCAR and call for a Millions For Reparations Rally.

            In December of 2001, the Durban 400 officially made “The Call” for the Millions For Reparations Mass Rally. Just a note: It was never intended or expected that a million African people in America would attend the rally. However, it was our contention that at this stage of the Reparations Movement, millions of African people in America support the idea that African people in America are owed Reparations. Therefore, we appealed to representatives of those millions to participate in this rally and they did.

            The Millions For Reparations Mass Rally was a grand success because we said we wanted to mobilize grassroots people on the ground throughout America, to help educate, inform, and energize everyday Black people in America to take ownership of the Reparations Movement. The Millions For Reparations Mass Rally helped contribute to the growth of the grassroots component of the Reparations Movement, thus creating the embryonic stage of building a Black Mass Reparations Movement in America.

            In this regard, we were able to de-emphasize stars and celebrities being the fundamental character of the rally. Instead, we were successful in making the “STAR” of the rally, the issue of Reparations itself.

            Another extremely important factor in the grand success of the Millions For Reparations Mass Rally was that we were able to raise the necessary finances associated with the rally from everyday Black people in America. We financed this rally ourselves!

            The members of the December 12th Movement, the National Black United Front and the Durban 400 worked night and day volunteering in so many ways to make this rally a grand success.

            The rally received support from the members of N`COBRA, the New Black Panther Party, the UNIA, MATAH, the Nation of Yisrael, The House of the Lord Church, Trinity United Church of Christ, Congressman John Conyers, Councilman Charles Barron, Councilwoman Sandy Allen, Alderman Lionel Baptiste, Dr. Ron Daniels of the Institute of the Black World, Henry English of the Black United Fund of Illinois, Bill Merritt of the National Black United Fund, Dr. Carol Adams and the Center for Inner City Studies of Northeastern Illinois University, and State Senator Donne Trotter and a host of other grassroots organizations and leaders from around the country.  Also, the Black Press and Black radio stations helped get the word out.

            The Honorable Louis Farrakhan and the Nations of Islam provided a key element in the Millions For Reparations Rally’s success.

            Finally, the Millions For Reparations Mass Rally was a success because of the youth participation and organizing efforts. The youth involvement in the rally was indeed inspiring. The elders in our movement were proud of the work our youth performed to make the Millions For Reparations Mass Rally a grand success.

            We want to thank everyone who made the Millions For Reparations Mass Rally a grand success. We will report in future articles the post rally follow-up program of action.

National Chairman
National Black United Front (NBUF)

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