CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AND REPARATIONS
By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill (April 16, 2008)
Four years ago on Tuesday, August 24, 2004, as Chairman of the National Black United Front, I participated in a historic press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Pan African Roots and its Co-Director, Bob Brown. Given our continued efforts to build the Reparations Movement, I decided to revisit this press conference.
The subject of the press conference was “Slavery and the Slave Trade Were and Are Crimes Against Humanity.” Those of us who work deeply in the Pan African Movement worldwide are keenly aware of the monumental contributions Brother Bob Brown has made as an organizer and researcher for over forty years “in the student, human rights, Black Power, National Liberation, Pan African, and Peace Movements.”
Once again, through his research, Brother Bob has opened up new territory and possibilities for the varying strategies and tactics in the African Reparations Movement throughout the world.
As co-director of Pan African Roots, Brother Bob stated, as he made his presentation in the press conference, that Pan African Roots “convened this encounter with history and the future in order to directly, militantly and uncompromisingly challenge and correct at least two myths.”
Myth 1: “The malicious myth that man-stealing, woman-stealing, child-stealing, and kidnapping; that piracy and privateering; that slavery and the slave-trade, especially the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade; that colonialism, segregation and apartheid; that slave-like conditions and practices; that racism and racial discrimination; white supremacy; was and is acceptable; and that there is nothing we could or can do about it.”
Myth 2: “The malicious myth time and the elements have destroyed all records, all evidence, all proof of who committed and or aided and abetted in the commission of these crimes; and of who was and continues to be wrongfully and unjustly enriched by and through their participation in these crimes; in this unprecedented theft of lives, of land, and of labor.”
Unraveling these two myths continues to be the challenge of the Reparations Movement as we strive to enhance legal strategies, legislative strategies, and mass mobilization strategies. The research of Bob Brown over the last several years will aid the Reparations Movement in unraveling these myths.
In this regard, Brother Bob revealed that Pan African Roots was requesting from the United States Government, through the Freedom of Information Act, “access to and / or copies of any and all records, including e-mails, electronic records, and computer-generated records, created and / or obtained by, or under the control of the United States Government that relate to, and / or contain information about, its role operations, and activities in facilitating and / or combating piracy and privateering, slavery, and the slave trade, especially the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, which are and were a crime against humanity.”
At the United Nations World Conference Against Racism that was held in Durban, South Africa from August 31 to September 7, 2001, we participated in the Durban 400, a delegation made up of Africans in America activists and organizations that worked with African Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) and African Governments that helped shape a significant outcome of the conference in declaring through the Final Declaration and Programme of Action the following:
“acknowledge(s) that slavery and the slave-trade, including the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, were appalling tragedies in the history of humanity not only because of their abhorrent barbarism but also in terms of their magnitude, organized nature and especially their negation of the essence of the victims… acknowledge(s) that slavery and the slave-trade are a crime against humanity and should have always been so, especially the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and are among the major sources and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance… and invite(s) the international community members to honour the memory of the victims of these tragedies.”
The Reparations Movement celebrated the victory of this language being included in the Durban Declaration, particularly since the United States, and its western allies, fought so hard against its inclusion in the final document. You may recall that the United States was so upset they called a press conference and announced their withdrawal from the conference.
Little did we know at that time, what Brother Bob’s research is now revealing, that slaver and the slave trade, as far back as 1831, had been declared crimes against humanity. William Lloyd Garrison was the first person to declare slavery a crime against humanity in his inaugural edition of his Liberator Newspaper. On November 12, 1849, the Vermont Legislature passed a joint resolution declaring slavery and the slave trade a crime against humanity.
And the irony of all this, as revealed by Bob Brown’s research, is that in 1860, the “Republican Party National Platform resolved that slavery and the slave trade were crimes against humanity.”
We were honored to stand with Bob Brown in this historic press conference along with Fahima Seck, Kalonji Olusegun, Dr. Mary Rhodes Hoover, Dr. Raymond Winbush, Lee Robinson, Rasheida Weaver, Kwaku Leaks, Banbose Shango, and a host of other supporters from throughout the country.
As Bob stated, “We are confident that the records requested by and through this FOIA Request will prove, once and for all, that piracy, slavery and the slave trade, including the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, are and were illegal and prohibited, are and were recognized as a crime against humanity…”
We must thank Bob for his dedication, commitment, and creativity in helping to move the Reparations Movement to another level with his research.
National Black United Front (NBUF)