By Frederick H. Lowe
Growing outrage surrounding homicides of unarmed African-American men by police and the refusal by grand juries to indict the officers has sparked new interest about the reparations movement in the United States, according to Don Rojas, spokesman for the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, which is hosting a reparations conference April 9-12 in New York.
The so-called war on drugs in which black men are serving long terms in prison also has fueled growing anger. Once the men leave prison, they are often unable to get jobs, and they are prohibited from voting.
“A lot of young people who are participating in BlackLivesMatter, have never heard of the reparations movement,” Rojas told BlackmansStreet Today and NorthStar News & Analysis. “They are much more progressive and rallies are being held in New York, Los Angeles and other cities.”
The Institute of the Black World, which is based in Queens, N.Y., will host the conference that will be attended by Sir Hilary McD. Beckles, head of the Caribbean Community Commission or CARICOM, a Georgetown, Guyana-based organization that represents 15 Caribbean countries. Beckles is author of “Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide.”
CARICOM is seeking reparations from European countries as a result of the transatlantic slave trade. CARICOM representatives are expected to attend the conference. The U.S. conference is inspired by CARICOM.
Thirteen of the 15 Caribbean countries that have established national reparations commissions also will send representatives to the New York conference. In addition, South and Central American countries that have established reparations commissions also are sending representatives.
The conference is being held at various locations in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, which have become one of the many battlegrounds for the fight against police killings of unarmed black men.
An opening rally is being held in Harlem, the symbolic capital of black America and a closing rally will be held in Brooklyn, which boasts the nation’s largest Caribbean population.
The goal of the conference is to establish a National African American Reparations Commission to intensify the reparations movement in this country.
The National African American Reparations Commission wants to select a 15-member committee that will hold town hall meetings nationwide to decide on a 10-point plan for reparations.
After the New York meeting, members of the Institute for the Black World 21st Century will travel to Detroit to meet U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.) to honor the Congressman and to revive his legislation calling for reparations. Institute of the Black World also will honor Conyers’ 50 years of public service.
The scheduled New York conference follows a one-day conference held last April in Chicago.
If you are interested in attending the New York conference, go to Institute of the Black World 21st Century to preregister.