REPARATIONS AND THE VESTIGES OF SLAVERY

By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill (June 5, 2003)

 

            For over twenty-four years, NBUF, through its chapters around the country, has distinguished itself as one of the leading grassroots nationalist organizations in America. Consistently, throughout this twenty-four period, NBUF has been on the cutting edge of many of the critical issues facing African people in America and throughout the world.

            In recent years, NBUF has become a leading activist organization in the Reparations Movement. NBUF has helped escalate the demand for reparations for African people in America that has been led by the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, N`COBRA. In this regard, NBUF worked with the December 12th Movement, based in Brooklyn, New York in co-sponsoring the historic Millions For Reparations Mass Rally held on the birthday of the Honorable Marcus Garvey on August 17, 2002 in Washington, D. C.  More than fifty thousand African people in America attended this event from over sixty-eight (68) cities representing thirty-eight (38) states.

            This year’s NBUF convention theme is “Reparations and the Vestiges of Slavery: Making A People Whole Again!” Through our discussions and organizing work in the Reparations Movement, it has become clear to us that the vestiges of slavery are ever present in the behavior of African people in America and that through the Reparations Movement we can begin repairing the devastating damage that slavery caused among our people.

            In the recently published book, Should America Pay?, edited by Dr. Raymond Winbush, the chapter written by Jewel Crawford, Wade W. Nobles, and Joy DeGray Leary, “Repairing the Damage from the Legacy of Slavery,” makes the profound observation, “ The root of the word ‘reparations’ is repair, which is quite apropos in the case of the victims and descendants of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.”

            Continuing, they write, “For, as we shall see below, much damage has been done. For many the damage has been irreversible, as the millions of African skeletons (were they to be dredged up from the bottom of the ocean, where they jumped or were thrown overboard during the notorious Middle Passage) would attest to.”

            Additionally, they observe, “Or perhaps, on quiet starlit nights, if we could listen to the whispering of millions of ghosts hovering over unmarked graves throughout the land, we could hear their stories. It may be a mass grave from whence comes the murmuring, dug in the aftermath of the carnage of the bloody put-down of a slave rebellion. Or it may simply be the scattered plots now overgrown with weeds of those who were beaten, overworked, tortured, maimed, exposed to the elements and left for dead during the slave era and the vicious period of institutionalized racist discrimination that persists more than one hundred years following emancipation.”

            It is in the spirit that the 24th Annual NBUF Convention will focus on the vestiges of slavery in five major plenary sessions beginning on Friday, July 11th and concluding on Saturday, July 12th. These plenary sessions will be: Plenary I) The Prison Industrial Complex, Plenary II) Economic Challenges, Plenary III) African Centered Educational Challenges, Plenary IV) Restoring the Health and Wellness of African People, Plenary V) Legal, Legislative, and Electoral Strategies in the Reparations Movement, and Plenary VI, this final session will address “Organizing Strategies, International Affairs, and the Post 1960s Impact on the African American Community.”

            Since the Millions For Reparations Mass Rally, the NBUF Central Committee decided to move forward with three specific organizing strategies to help fuel the momentum gained by the Rally and to add to the increase in interest in the Reparations Movement among African people across the United States. These strategies will also be an overall part of the convention discussion:

Strategy I: The Elected Official Reparations Survey Scorecard

Strategy II: Phase IV of the NBUF Petition / Declaration Campaign

Strategy III: Reparations Lawsuit Community Mobilization

            The Twenty-fourth Annual National Convention of the National Black United Front will be a place where you can renew your spirit of continuing in this great work to repair, to become “Whole Again!”

            We cannot let the media put us to sleep or sidetrack us with peripheral issues. To the contrary, we must intensify our organizational efforts and stay the course. We must continue demanding that we be repaired for the most heinous crime in the annals of human history, the European chattel slave enterprise, which enslaved millions of Africans and resulted in an incalculable number of deaths (in the millions) of Africans and their African descendents.

            The work of NBUF in the Reparations Movement will continue to be inspired by the righteousness of our just demands for reparations. See you at the NBUF Convention.    

 
National Chairman
National Black United Front (NBUF)


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