By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill (March 17, 2003)


            On February 26, 2003 the first hearing of the reparations lawsuit against eight major corporations was held in Chicago, Illinois in the court of Judge Charles R. Norgle, U. S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, at 219 South Dearborn Street. Hundreds of African in Americans packed the courtroom and had to be moved to a larger courtroom to accommodate the massive turnout of people who came to witness the hearing.

            The next hearing will be held on Wednesday, May 7, 2003 at 9:00 a.m. Once again, we are urging the community to come out and pack the courtroom and let the world know we are watching.

On March 26, 2002 a historic reparations lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. In the unprecedented lawsuit, eight major corporations were named that seek payback for the companies historical ties to the slave trade over 137 years ago.

            The suit named Aetna Inc., CSX Corporation, and Fleet-Boston Financial Corporation, among others, as “unjustly profiting from the slave trade before the Civil War ended in 1865.”

            These news accounts further revealed, “Despite having no outside financial backing, she rocked the insurance industry in 2000 by confronting Aetna with evidence it had insured the lives of slaves for slaveholders. That prompted California to require other insurers to search archives for slave policies.”

            Since the filing of the March 26th  lawsuit, the momentum has picked up and reparations lawsuits have been filed in New Jersey, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. The group of lawyers and plaintiffs are called “The Corporate Restitution Team,” led by the law firms of Thomas, Wareham, and Richards in New York and Jean Baptiste and Associates in Chicago.

            In the book Should America Pay?, edited by Dr. Raymond A. Winbush, the entire original lawsuit is published in “Part VI – Historical Documents.” It is my suggestion that all African people in America should read and study this lawsuit as we prepare for the second hearing of the cases that have been consolidated.

We are urging the community to come out and pack the courtroom at the first hearing in Chicago of the historic lawsuits, suing to obtain reparations from corporations, which profited from slavery in the United States. One way to make Black History this month is by attending this hearing and supporting the plaintiffs Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, Andre Carrington, Mary Lacey Madison, Richard Barber, Marcelle Porter, Hannah Jane Hurdle-Toomey, Eddlee Bankhead (deceased), Julie Mae Wyatt-Kervin, and Ina Hurdle McGee.

            Let us examine some of the points in the lawsuit:

“1.  Over 8,000,000 Africans and their descendents were enslaved in the United States from

       1619 to 1865. The practice of slavery constituted an immoral and inhumane deprivation of

       African life, liberty, African citizenship rights, cultural heritage, and it further deprived them

      of the fruits of their own labor.

2.      Historians estimate that one slave ship that sailed into Jamestown Harbor in Virginia in 1619 contained a handful of captive Africans, but by the end of the Atlantic slave trade, more than two centuries later, somewhere between 8 million and 12 million Africans had arrived in the New World in chains.

3.      Historian estimate that one slave perished for every one who survived capture in the African interior and made it alive to the New World, meaning as many as 12 million perished along the way.

4.      Although, it is a common perception that the South alone received the enslaved Africans, many of them arrived in the Dutch colonial city of New Amsterdam that later became New York City. Integral to the colony from the start, slaves helped build Trinity Church, the streets of the city and the wall, from which Wall Street takes its name, that protected the colony from military strikes…

5.   Many early American industries were based on the cotton, sugar, rice, tobacco and other products  

      African labor produced. Railroads and shipping companies, the banking industry and many other  

      businesses made huge profits from the commerce generated by the output of enslaved labor…

6.   As a result of Defendants’ wrongful acts and omissions, Plaintiffs and members of the Plaintiffs   

class have been injured and demand judgment against the Defendants jointly, severally and /or in the    

alternative on this cause of action for, amongst other things (a) an accounting of slave labor monies, profits and/or benefits derived by Defendants; (b) a constructive trust in the value of said monies, profits and/or benefits derived by Defendants’ use of slave labor.”

            Let’s Keep Making Black History by Packing The Courtroom on Wednesday, May 7th at 9:00 a.m. in Chicago. For further information, please contact NBUF. 

National Chairman
National Black United Front (NBUF)

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