THE NDABA PROCESS AND THE REPARATIONS MOVEMENT

By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill (August 13, 2004)

 

 

            With the passage of Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896, the Black struggle in America was united for over seventy years in its resolve to end racial segregation under the law. This united effort resulted in the legal dismantling of racial segregation in 1965. In the aftermath of this victory, ending racial segregation under the law, through the momentous Civil Rights Movement, the question is, “What major issue should the Black Movement unite on today?” Those of us in the Reparations Movement have been advocates (since the ending of racial segregation under the law) that what is now needed is the repair of the damages inflicted upon us. That is, we say the unifying issue today should be the demand for reparations. Even though racial segregation under the law no longer exists in America, racism, discrimination, and white supremacy are still deeply embedded in the institutions and public policy retrenchments aimed at taking back the gains made by the Civil Rights Movement.

On May 31, 2003 I wrote the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan a letter requesting he use the “…tremendous impact of [his] your leadership be used to assist us in a defining moment in history in the Reparations Movement in America.”

            Further, I wrote to Minister Farrakhan, “…as you know, I have been working deeply, and committed much of my energy to this issue and it is my observation that the personality clashes, the ideological differences, the competition, and the lack of communication and other factors are inhibiting the leadership in the Reparations Movement to advance our cause at the level that it should be.”

            Continuing, I wrote, “We have learned from the 1960s. Minister Farrakhan, we know that we must bury our egos, put in check our ideologies, and resolve our conflicts and differences in the backroom.”

            We were very humbled and honored that Minister Farrakhan agreed to convene, and host, a private, invitation only meeting of some of the major organizers, researchers, scholars, and organizational representatives in the Reparations Movement in America.

            The meeting was held on Saturday, July 26, 2003 at the Salaam Restaurant in Chicago, Illinois. More than fifty sisters and brothers representing the broad spectrum of the Reparations Movement from throughout the United States accepted the invitation and were in attendance. More than twenty-eight participants in the meeting were given an opportunity to share the work they have been doing in the Reparations Movement such as; Elder Hannibal Afrik, Elder Erline Arikpo, Brother Bob Brown, Dr. Iva Carruthers, Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, Dorothy Lewis Benton, Dr. Imari Obadele, Rev. Al Sampson, Dr. Raymond Winbush, Congressman John Conyers, Honorable JoAnn Watson, Brother Ahmed Assalaam, Leonard Muhammad, Rev. James Demus, Morris Griffin, Dr. Anderson Thompson, Thomas Muhammad, Kofi Taharka, Akinyele Umoja, and Atty. Lionel Jean Baptiste to name a few.

            Dr. Ron Walters, long time scholar, activist, professor of political science, and Director of the African American Leadership Academy at the University of Maryland was not able to attend the meeting but sent a paper entitled “Unity in the Movement For African Reparations In America.”

            In his paper Dr. Walters explained that, “Our unity is old: before Europe and before America were born. The foundation of our political systems was rooted in the concept of consensus. For example, when important issues were called for in the Ashanti culture, the chief called a meeting know as the asetena kese, which means the big sitting down. In South Africa, among the Nguni, the practice is known as the ndaba.”

            Dr. Walters, further explained that “in the situation of attempting to achieve reparations, we have the responsibility to search for the correct principles of consensus rooted in the history and culture of our people as the key to unity. And in this situation, operational unity is a necessary precondition, but political unity on key issues when necessary is the strongest posture that we can attain to reach this goal.”

            Due to the success of this meeting, the participants agreed to establish the NDABA Movement. The NDABA Movement is a network of organizations, researchers, scholars, faith based institutions, and activists in the Reparations Movement. This network has been convening regularly over the last year to collectively intensify the Reparations Demand for Black people in America. The following is a partial listing of the NDABA Movement participants: N`COBRA, Nation of Islam, National Black United Front, New African Peoples Organization, Republic of New Africa, the New Black Panther Party, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Jericho Movement, African and African Americans for Enslavement Reparations, Global African Congress, Sehan Youth, Inc., Trinity United Church of Christ, Fernwood United Methodist Church, and the Shrine of the Black Madonna.

            Currently, the NDABA Movement has convened “Working Groups” in critical areas of the Reparations Movement. These Working Groups have been seriously meeting and strategizing in the areas of : Organizational Collaboration, Legislative, Criminal In-Justice, Education, Black Spiritual Faith Community, Ayare-Sa (Internal Healing), Legal Strategies, Youth and Student, and Research and Scholarship.

            At the NDABA III Meeting held in Houston, Texas, March 19-20, 2004, we agreed to develop and circulate throughout the Black Communities in America, a Reparations Petition that clearly indicates, at the grassroots level, Black peoples support for the Reparations Demand. It was stated by Minister Farrakhan that we should aim to gather one million signatures. Thus far, thousands of Black people have signed these petitions and we plan to submit them to the Congress of the United States.

            The NDABA IV Meeting will be held on October 29-30, 2004 at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. Thanks to the support and leadership of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, we have been able to maintain a level of operational unity that is helping to strengthen our demand for reparations. This process has led to a greater level of cooperation, as demonstrated through the support that the petition campaign is receiving.

            As stated in the petition, “We, above all others in America, have sacrificed the most for this country. It is clear at this hour that the major issue for Black people in the upcoming election is restitution for a long standing debt of the United States Government owed to Black people since the end of the Civil War.”

            Join the NDABA Movement Petition Campaign and help intensify our demand for reparations!

 
National Chairman
National Black United Front (NBUF)


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