PANEL DISCUSSION ON REPERATIONS FOR SLAVERY-Andrew Stelzer

02/27/04

Last night, a panel discussion was held in Ybor city about reparations for slavery for African Americans. WMNF�S Andrew Stelzer was there and filed this report ---------

ACT “Right now, in everywhere they are talking about reparations, al over..�

Tony, the host and moderator of the panel, said the issue of reparations is being discussed more and more in the African-American communities.

ACT “It will split the black community in half…this will be the issue that will define our generation

About 30 people came to the Sweet Serennah café on 7th Street to talk about whether Black people should or be given reparations for being kidnapped and taken from Africa, and made into slaves for hundreds of years. There was also discussion about what form those reparations should come in, and how to create a political movement to make this a real possibility. There were 4 panelists, each who were in favor of reparations, but each with a different perspective on the issue.

Malik from the black united Front explained that there are a variety of views within the black community on what reparations should consist of..

Act “There some asking for educational grants, some for lump sum, some for the land question….etc.

Abu-Kari Abudulai is originally from Ghana, he is now an attorney both in Ghana and New York. Abudulai explained how Africans view slavery very differently from Americans. He says that both Africans and African-Americans should receive financial compensation from some of the companies who participated in or supported the slave trade.

ACT “They robbed us of our people, looted our resources, we can trace it to the companies�

Last month, a federal judge in Chicago dismissed a lawsuit brought by descendents of slaves against several companies which can trace their corporate roots to companies that profited off of slavery, the judge said the case was not in his jurisdiction, but his dismissal left the chance for lawyers to amend and refile the suit.

Minister James Mohammed is with the Nation of Islam, he detailed the Nation’s 4 demands to do with reparations, as written by Elijah Mohammed.

Act “Number 1, we want freedom, number 2..�

Reparations for African Americans were first proposed in 1865 by General William Sherman. During the Civil War, Sherman met with 20 black leaders, and based on their input, issued Special Field Order #15 setting aside a 30-mile tract of land in the South for the settlement of former slaves. Each family would get 40 acres and a mule to work the land. The order was introduced as Senate Bill 60 in February 1866 and needed the president's signature to become law. President Lincoln was assassinated in April, and Andrew Johnson vetoed the bill. In the early 1900’s Marcus Garvey was one of the most outspoken advocates for reparations, in the form of returning Black Americans to Africa. Malik from the Black united Front said that the history of racism runs too deep in the United States government and American culture, he doesn’t believe that working within the system will reap any positive results.

ACT “I wont waste one dime or waste my time asking for justice, he hung us from poles right here on Central Avenue�

According to the 2000 census, approximately one-fourth of the African American population lives in poverty, a rate three times that of white Americans. A Georgetown University professor estimated a figure of $5 to $10 trillion as the amount the U.S. government owes African-Americans for "the slavery their ancestor's were forced to endure. Other estimates are more conservative, at $1.4 trillion. Minister James Mohammed said that African Americans must stay focused and determined to make their demands for positive things that will help their race.

NOI ACT We are too Cadillac minded, to Lincoln minded…we can not just accept money…we have been very foolish with the over 600 billion dollars we get out of the American economy.�

Mohammed added that there because of a lack of understanding of what was taken away from them, many black people think the damage has already made up for.

NOI ACT “Recently there were some Negroes who flew on air force one..They thought that was reparations…some think that marrying a white woman is reparations…this is how some of us assess our worth, so a critical component

One woman in the audience said that although she believes that some sort of reparations should be made, the black community needs to do their part as well.

ACT “To me its about taking responsibility…what have you done in 30 years, what have you done?….we are so brilliant, were apathetic

The same woman also asked how the Jewish people were able to secure Israel as a homeland. For those who see land as an important part of reparations, Israel is the only model of people who have been given land in response to an injustice done to them. Tony, the moderator of the panel, responded that there is a lot to learn from the Jewish community.

ACT Tony One thing that black people need to do is become passionate about our own history and heritage, the Jewish community makes it known to everybody, “never again� they are constantly reminding people—they have an intelligent discussion� --if you know your history—their greatest fear is that we can intelligently discuss it.�

For more information about the movement for reparations, go to www.reparationscentral.com

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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