National/International Reparations Conference Begins Today

Caribbean countries have put a case for reparations before the British Parliament; Organization formed here to push the reparations movement

Representatives from 10 Caribbean countries are scheduled to attend a three-day National/International Reparations Summit that begins at 7 p.m. today, April 9, with a welcome rally at Mother AME Zion Church in Harlem.

Rev. Jesse Jackson will deliver the keynote at Thursday's opening day of the National/International Reparations Conference.

Rev. Jesse Jackson will deliver the keynote at Thursday’s opening day of the National/International Reparations Conference.

Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition in Chicago, will deliver the keynote address today. The next day, the summit will host a tribute to U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr., who has introduced HR-40, the Reparations Study Bill, every year since 1989. If enacted, HR-40 would create a commission to study and recommend remedies for the impacts of slavery on today’s African Americans.

Conyers, who was first elected in 1965, is the longest-serving African-American congressman. Actor Danny Glover will deliver the keynote address on Friday.

On Saturday, the final day of the conference, Sir Hilary McD. Beckles, author of “Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide,” a book that is considered a blueprint for the Caribbean reparations movement, will speak.

Actor Danny Glover will deliver the keynote address on Friday.

Actor Danny Glover will deliver the keynote address on Friday.

The Institute of the Black World 21st Century, a research, policy and advocacy group will host Caribbean Community or Caricom Commission.  Beckles is chair of the Caricom Reparations Commission and in August he presented a case for Caribbean reparations to the British Parliament. British ships bought 5.5 million enslaved Africans to the Caribbean colonies over 180 years ago, he said.

The commission is seeking reparations from former colonial European countries. The conference is being held to jump-start the reparations movement in the United States.

In the U.S. a National African American Reparations Commission has been established. The commission will develop a final reparations program/agenda as a result of community-based hearings and town hall meetings nationwide.

U.S. John Conyers Jr. will be honored at the conference for introducing Reparations Legislation.

U.S.  Rep. John Conyers Jr. will be honored at the conference for introducing Reparations Legislation.

As the case for reparations for Africans in America is advanced, we need a much more coherent message about key issues and questions, such as developing a consensus for a Reparations Trust Fund to administer various types of compensation, said Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World and the former deputy campaign manager for Rev. Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign.

In addition to the Caribbean countries, representatives from Belize, Martinique, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, Sweden, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands are expected to attend the conference.

“The National/International Reparations Summit will not only be a moment to galvanize the U.S. Reparations Movement, it will serve to galvanize an emerging global reparations movement,” Daniels said.

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