TEXAS, REPARATIONS, AND BLACK POWER

By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill (October 3, 2002)

 

            On Thursday, September 26, 2002 and Friday, September 27, 2002, the Local Action Committee, spearheaded by the National Black United Front, Houston Chapter, invited me to Houston. I was invited to participate in a Reparations Town Hall Meeting on Thursday and to further participate in a reparations rally at the Texas State Capital and Governor’s Mansion on Friday in Austin, Texas.

            The emergence of these reparations actions grows out of the leadership of Brother Kofi Taharka, the Chairman of the Houston Chapter of NBUF, who has provided tremendous leadership, through his organizing skills, to help build the Reparations Movement in Texas.

            The Local Action Committee in Houston is made up of numerous Black organizations, who over the last several months, have come together to address the issue of reparations. Most recently, more than a hundred sisters and brothers traveled by bus from Houston, more than thirty hours, to participate in the historic Millions For Reparations Mass Rally held August 17, 2002 in Washington, D. C.

            Throughout the State of Texas, reparations has now become a burning issue because of the mobilizing and organizing work of the Houston Chapter of the National Black United Front, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America / N`COBRA (Dallas chapter), African and African Americans for Emancipation (Dallas), the New Black Panther Party (Austin and Dallas chapters), Nation of Islam (Southwest Region), Local Organizing Committee (Fort Worth), All African Peoples Revolutionary Party (Fort Worth), and the San Antonio Reparations Committee. Since The Call was made for the Millions For Reparations Mass Rally, the Houston Chapter of NBUF began to focus its organizing around this issue.

            On January 22, 2002, NBUF and the New Black Panther Party organized a “March Against the Texas/Harris County In-Justice System in which they challenged “Modern Day Slavery” in the Criminal Justice System.

            Minister Quanell X of the New Black Panther Party “unleashed a verbal assault on the Texas Criminal Justice System.” Brother Quanell X explained at this protest that “Harris County is leading the nation in incarceration of Black men and women. It is a modern day slave system with white judges, and some sorry criminal defense attorneys. If it were Black people sending white people to prison in these numbers, hell, it would be declared a state of emergency.”

            The spirit of this demonstration sparked continued organizing around the issue of reparations in Houston that now began to be discussed on radio talk shows and written about in the newspapers. Black people in Texas now began to more publicly discuss the issue of reparations, particularly as it related to the Prison Industrial Complex.

            On June 19, 2002, the Local Action Committee (LAC) For Reparations in Houston held a Juneteenth Reparations Protest at the Imperial Sugar Company in Sugarland, Texas. The Committee’s research documented the historic enslavement of African people by the “progenitors of this corporation.” The LAC  demonstrated that “The wealth of this company and area can be directly tied to the brutal, forced labor of many African souls.”

            As the Local Action Committee explained, “One hundred and thirty seven years after Gen. Gordon Granger arrived on the shores of Galveston, announcing freedom for those in bondage, this protest will mark a solemn commemoration of the untold suffering of countless African people. This search and action buttresses the righteous demand for reparations.”

            The momentum of the Reparations Movement was again lifted in Texas when the Local Action Committee For Reparations on July 30, 2002, held a press conference announcing that the City Council of Houston pass a reparations resolution.

            An outpouring from the African in American Community in Houston filled the City Council Chambers to hear testimony in support of the Reparations Resolution.

            A white-At-Large City Council Member, Michael Berry, voted not on the proposed reparations resolution causing it to fail. The LAC announced this was a slap in the face to the entire African in American Community. The LAC pointed out that Berry used deceptive campaign practices to gain the support of the African American voters, including campaign literature with only prominent African American ministers and elected officials. The LAC staged protests at Berry’s campaign headquarters and his home.

            I was able to observe and participate on September 26th and 27th , the great reparations movement that is unfolding in the State of Texas.

            The Town Hall Meeting held at Greater Calvary Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Richard Hands, on September 26th, was a powerful testimony to the growing Reparations Movement in the State. James Rogers and Lady Nelson of Dallas N`COBRA, Thomas Muhammad also of Dallas, and other representatives from the community spoke, including myself.

            More than 300 people participated in the demonstration at the Texas State Capitol and the Governor’s mansion on Friday. Robert Muhammad, the Southwest Regional Representative of the Nation of Islam and a host of other reparations activists spoke.

            The spirit of the day culminated in the slogan “Black Power and Reparations Now!” The sisters and brothers in Texas should be congratulated for providing a model we can all use in our reparations organizing work.

            BLACK POWER!

 
National Chairman
National Black United Front (NBUF)


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