I will scatter them, and then I will gather them: Deuteronomy 4:27; 28:64; 32:26; Isaiah 11:12;
Jeremiah 23:8 / Read about the African Slave Trade in Deuteronomy 28th Chapter.
REPARATIONS NOW IN OUR LIFETIME!
N E W S L E T T E RÖÖ.#19
AUGUST 2001 (Part One)
"Take direct action against the U.S. government!" Dr. Robert Brock
GIVE POWER AND MEANING TO
THE REPARATIONS MASS MOVEMENT
GIVE OF YOURSELF!
Note from the REPNOW Newsletter Editor:
Blacks may have various personal agendas, however, this demand for Reparations
is a concern that requires a UNITED FRONT.
At this point, with the thrust for Reparations being at an all time high, there should be meetings and conferences and information disseminated throughout all major cities and in EVERY SINGLE BLACK NEWSPAPER THAT EXISTS in this country, as well as in others that hold Descendants of Slaves. We are on a roll, and we just canít stop now!
If there is but one accomplishment that has the potential to resolve all the injustices Blacks face in White Societies, itís the matter of Reparations for Descendants of Slaves. With these payments, we can relocate to friendly countries and establish our own settlements: housing, schools/universities, farms, Health Centers, and small businesses. This would give us empowerment over our own economic welfare, social programs, educational systems for our children, and self-determination.
White folks have us believing that America is the "Greatest Country on Earth." Surely, we have heard this lie throughout our early years in elementary school and throughout high school. Another thing weíve heard ad nauseam is, "Arenít you proud to be an American?" How can Blacks applaud this racist country and its environment that enslaved Blacks out of Africa, that wrote a constitution sustaining the White privileged, and that established institutional racism and prejudice towards Blacks and other people of color? How can we accept such a delusion as the "United States is the "Greatest Country on Earth?" And then we, Survivors of the Slave Trade, are asked, "Arenít you proud to be an American?" How can anyone in good conscience ask a Black person such an insane question. Although I have never been asked this question, I have heard it asked of others. But I have my answer already prepared for the brave soul who asks me this asinine question: "I know too much about the founding fathers of America and the TransAtlantic Slave Trade to make such an absurd statement."
The Thirteen Colonies and the United States of America were established with the blood and misery of Native Americans and Blacks out of Africa. Some of these Peoples were my forebears, and all who were taken captive endured a most horrible and heinous experience - one that was so terrible and merciless that the impact of this TransAtlantic Slave Trade still affects Native Americans and Blacks today. But insensitive White Folks want us to dismiss the injustices we face in White Societies and magnify the "Greatest Country in the World" regardless of their involvement in the Human Rights Violations of Black Humanity. Bowing down to the powers-that-be has never gotten us anywhere. But on the contrary, it has kept us suppressed, afflicted, and in great despair.
Unfortunately, Blacks are more apt to be elected to high offices and acquire positions in corporate America if they can demonstrate support for White Folks and their interests, keep a low profile, and not make the wrong waves and demands in regard to Black needs and issues. White Folks will even make us "Directors of Personnel," while they decide who is to be hired. Hence we know very well who is calling the shots. Therefore, to see a Black Director of Personnel is to falsely believe that we have the job in the bag regardless of how qualified we are. And to sit on a team in search of a high ranking employee is another joke White Folks pull. The team interviews six Whites and one Black token with exceptional credentials. You know how we have to be the cream of the crop before they will even consider us for an interview and for employment. And even though we may have higher degrees than Whites, we donít always get the job, but the White high school student will. We are also aware of the Blacks who have had the same jobs for years and with great evaluations, but itís the young White kids who are trained by these Blacks who advance and make it up the corporate ladder. Yíall know what Iím talking about. Also, Iím tired of hearing "None of us are perfect" when it comes to White Folks, and "Well, you know thatís typical of them" when it comes to Black Folks. And I tell you that I CANíT TAKE IT ANY MORE!!!
I am always amazed at the news that comes my way concerning the injustice Blacks face in the United States on a daily basis: racism, discrimination, prejudice, racial profiling, police brutality, lack of a quality education for our children, ghetto life, lack of adequate medical care, and lack of sufficient take-home pay for our livelihoods. Why arenít we marching in the streets of Washington, D.C. demonstrating for better living conditions if YOU believe that the United States is such a great place to live? Why arenít YOU broadcasting your anger at the United States for sending billions of YOUR tax dollars to Israel to build admirable housing settlements and to establish a stable social program for these people who are not descendants of the TransAtlantic Slave Trade? Blacks and other minorities have good reason to be upset and outraged at the way we are treated and abused in White Societies and at the total disregard for our wellbeing. And I am not surprised at the present uprising in Cincinnati due to the disrespect and disdain the Whites there have for the Blacks. Actually, I am amazed that this unrest is only now surfacing, and that it is not nationwide. Yet, we are supposed to be living in the "Greatest Country in the World." Well, maybe that is a true statement. Unfortunately, it just has no significance for Blacks and other people of color.
Therefore, it behooves us to use Reparations to establish a place(s) where we can truly be proud of our environment - one whereby, our children can develop a sense of positive self-esteem, and one that will enable us to leave a legacy for our progeny. Let the compensation for the TransAtlantic Slave Trade be used to the best and the maximum of its purpose. Letís make this Reparations legacy last, as it will enable us to move on, re-educate our children to the GODís Truth, establish ourselves as Black People to be reckoned with, and allow our forebears to rest in peace. What it all boils down to is that we must attain self determination, respect, dignity, and distinction throughout this World AND WE MUST ATTAIN IT NOW!
Because I have been deluged with super information, itís necessary to send out TWO PARTS of the REPNOW Newsletters #19. Therefore, you can expect another copy in just a few days. Be sure to share it with others and encourage them to take part in our efforts to acquire this DEBT that is long over due.
Stay strong, be real to the Reparations Movement, and give it all youíve got. Remember, this thrust is for the legacy that we never received, and it is so very much needed now in order to amend the suppression and oppression Black Peoples all over the World have endured since the rape of Africa and since being forcibly migrated to White Societies. Hey, if we donít revolutionize the present status of Black Peoples in Africa and throughout this World, then who will? No longer let it be said that Blacks and other people of color are subject to White domination. Let us FINALLY look out for our own interests be they in White Societies or in friendly countries that open their doors to Descendants of Slaves.
Finally, I pray that the Most High GOD of Hosts will stir up a storm at the WCAR and one that will call attention to Reparations and the racism, discrimination, prejudice, and injustices we face. I wish all NGOís and significant others participating in this Conference a safe trip and one that will manifest great accomplishments.
Tziona Yisrael, Editor
P.S. Be sure to read "CONVICT LEASING IN ALABAMA" under WHY THE POWERS-THAT-BE OWE BLACKS BIG TIME!
Please submit any information concerning meetings, articles, and reports on REPARATIONS for publication in the next REPNOW Newsletter. Many thanks for your assistance in making others aware of our thrust for Reparations.
ANY AND EVERYONE SPEAKING AND WRITING ABOUT REPARATIONS BRINGS ATTENTION TO THIS OUR CAUSE. THEREFORE, KEEP INFORMATION FLOWING ON THIS TOPIC, AND LET US CONTINUE TO FIGHT ZEALOUSLY FOR JUSTICE SERVED FOR THE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST OUR FOREBEARS AND AGAINST THOSE OF US LIVING TODAY!
Work with me, work with others, but letís all work TOGETHER for the betterment of Blacks all over the World. Either we attain this goal and be successful and prosperous Black Peoples, or we can continue on the destructive paths headed for the demise of Black Peoples that Descendants of the Slave Masters have paved for us.
Many, many thanks to everyone making an effort to do their part and/or work with others for Reparations.
Donít forget to send me FEEDBACK regarding your meetings, Conferences, dialogues, and debates, so that everyone can be informed of the progress of Reparationsí activities and affairs.
By the way, make it your business to attend as many Reparations Conferences as possible in order to be in the know, learn new ideas, network, and pass the word along: REPARATIONS NOW IN OUR LIFETIME!
Just one more thing, kindly realize that this is OUR "Reparations" Newsletter. As much as Iíd like to publish all the articles that come my way regarding the injustices we face in White Societies, please know that I just canít. I must dedicate this Newsletter to the "Reparations" Fight for Descendants of Slaves and our Liberation. Thank you for your support in this regard.
Tziona Yisrael, Editor
REPARATIONS NOW IN OUR LIFETIME Newsletter
(Click on "Repnow")
If anyone has a list of E-mail addresses of University and College Black Student Unions, please advise: Afraqueen@AOL.COM
REPARATIONS URGED FOR SLAVERY AND SEGREGATION
July 19, 2001
In advance of a major international conference on racism, Human Rights Watch today called for reparations to counter the most severe continuing effects of slavery, segregation, and other extreme forms of racism.
"Groups that suffer today because of slavery or other severe racist practices should be compensated by governments responsible for these practices. Those most seriously victimized today by past wrongs should be the first priority for compensation to end their victimization."
Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch said national and international panels should be created with maximum transparency and public participation to identify and acknowledge past abuses and to guide action to counter their present-day effect.
"Groups that suffer today because of slavery or other severe racist practices should be compensated by governments responsible for these practices," said Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. "Those most seriously victimized today by past wrongs should be the first priority for compensation to end their victimization."
Roth said reparations for past abuse should focus first on groups that continue to suffer the most severe hardships. "We're not talking about a handout or a windfall," said Roth. "We are calling for long-term commitments to correct the damage done to the groups left most seriously disadvantaged."
Human Rights Watch proposed the establishment of national panels, in multiracial countries such as the United States, Brazil and South Africa, as well as one or more international panels to look at the effect of the slave trade. These panels would focus on tracing these effects not for particular individuals but for groups.
The panels should serve as truth commissions aiming to reveal the extent to which a government's past racist practices contribute to contemporary deprivation domestically and abroad, Roth said. They should educate the public, acknowledge responsibility, and propose methods of redress and making amends.
A primary purpose of reparations would be to address the social and economic foundations of today's victims' continuing marginalization-through means such as investment in education, housing, health care, or job training.
The question of compensation for slavery will be one of the most controversial topics when the U.N. World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance meets in Durban, South Africa from August 31 to September 7.
Human Rights News
Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10118-3299
[Although I greatly appreciate Mr. Rothís article, he should know thatReparations for past and present abuses should focus on all Black groups for we have ALL suffered "severe hardships." All racist White Folks need see is the color of our skin, and then the prejudice sets in. No rhyme intended! T.Y., Editor]
SLAVERY STRATEGY: INSIDE THE REPARATIONS SUIT
The American Lawyer
A-list of lawyers, academics tackles challenges in identifying plaintiffs, defendants, damages
Earthquake prediction is a famously inexact science, but it's easy to see this one coming. By year-end, an all-star team of lawyers calling themselves the "Reparations Coordinating Committee" plans to file a suit seeking reparations for slavery. The legal merits of the case are unknown, but the tremors will no doubt be felt far and wide.
The group faces problems that seem insurmountable. Slavery ended in 1865. Who are the plaintiffs? The defendants? And if the group wins, by some miracle, what will the damages be?
An A-list of lawyers and academics, led by Charles Ogletree Jr., of Harvard Law School and Randall Robinson, of TransAfrica Forum, an African-American policy group, is trying to answer those questions. No final decisions have been made, and they're being tight-lipped about their work, but a few particulars are beginning to emerge. Multiple cases in multiple forums are likely. The defendants will come from both the public and private sectors. And the remedy will be aimed at institutions, not individuals.
The litigation side of the group includes J.L. Chestnutt Jr., a civil rights lawyer and activist from Selma, Ala., who represented Martin Luther King Jr.; Alexander Pires Jr., of Conlon, Frantz, Phelan & Pires in Washington, D.C., who worked with Chestnutt in winning a billion-dollar settlement for black farmers discriminated against by the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Stanley Chesley, the king of mass tort litigation from Cincinnati's Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley, who represented Holocaust survivors in a reparations suit; the enormously successful trial attorney Willie Gary of Stuart, Fla.; and the ubiquitous Johnnie Cochran.
The lawyers are working closely with a group of political scientists, historians, and economists, including Cornel West of Harvard University and Manning Marable of Columbia University. The group meets every other month or so at TransAfrica's D.C. office; smaller groups meet more frequently. Pires has written the early drafts of the complaint; Gary also is focusing on the nuts-and-bolts legal problems. Both men doubt whether clever legal arguments alone can carry the day. "There are lots of ways to get creative," said Gary. "They could get us into court, but I don't know if they could survive a motion to dismiss."
Help may lie in the political arena. The black farmers' suit, for example, only moved forward after a once-in-a-lifetime alliance between Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich prevailed on Congress to waive the statute-of-limitations defense. Gary would like to see similar legislation introduced before the reparations case is even filed. Congressman John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., the leading congressional advocate for reparations, is a likely sponsor. The group is leaning toward filing a number of suits simultaneously, all overseen by an umbrella organization. The cases against the U.S. Department of Commerce, the state of Mississippi, and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (to name three likely defendants), for example, will involve very different facts and may rely on different theories of law. Using multiple forums will simplify and streamline each case. In addition, "I don't think we should put all our eggs into one basket," said Chestnutt. "Some people think that a judge would be afraid to dismiss a reparations suit, but I think most judges wouldn't be able to get rid of it fast enough."
Every black American may be affected by the legacy of slavery, but the plaintiffs may be a more select class. Chestnutt and Gary say that proving a causal link will be easier for some individuals than others. They favor limiting the size of the plaintiff class to those who most directly felt the impact of slavery, such as those who suffered under Jim Crow laws, or whose grandparents were slaves. They recognize that this strategy may alienate those who are excluded, but Gary said, "I'd rather win a case for 50 percent of the blacks in this country than lose a case filed on behalf of 100 percent." Others in the group are leaning toward a more inclusive class, according to Chestnutt.
The defendants are easier to name. They will include the federal government, states that allowed slavery (and perhaps others), and private corporations that profited from slavery. Chestnutt said that little attention has been paid to the last group, but it's the most controversial and may pose the greatest legal difficulties. Attorney Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, whose previous work forced Aetna Inc. to apologize for issuing "slave policies" that paid owners if their slaves died or escaped, is researching the issue. She predicts that by year-end, she'll identify about 70 corporations as potential defendants, mostly banks and insurance companies.
The theory of the case isn't set. Chestnutt favors unjust erichment. "This is the richest, most powerful country in the history of the world, and a lot of it was built on the backs of slaves," he said.
By Paul Braverman
American Lawyer Media
Submitted by email@example.com
[It will be great to finally see the rewards from this awesome team battling for Reparations. However, these top attorneys cannot dismiss the fact that some victims of this Slave Trade wish to leave the lands of our captors, and this is our human rights prerogative. Therefore, it is imperative that these attorneys also take this information into consideration as they resolve the Reparations issue. T.Y., Editor]
CALIFORNIA FIRST U.S. STATE TO BACK SLAVE REPARATIONS
SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 11 (Reuters) - The California state assembly unanimously passed a resolution on Wednesday urging the U.S. Congress to study slave reparations, becoming the first state to back moves proponents hope will result in cash restitution for the nation's history of slavery.
The assembly resolution will now be sent to Congress, according to its author, Democratic state Senator Kevin Murray of Los Angeles, who added that it was the first resolution of its kind passed by any state in America.
"(It) is a necessary and positive step in the process of race relations," Murray said in a statement. "I am gratified and pleased that this resolution has met with such across-the-board acceptance."
California joins a number of major municipalities, including Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Dallas, which have called for federal hearings on the reparations issue.
The resolution notes the state legislature's support for efforts in the U.S. Congress to pass legislation acknowledging the history of slavery in the United States.
It also supports Congressional efforts to establish a committee to study reparation proposals for African Americans, asks Congress to apologize to black Americans for the "fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of slavery," and urges the establishment of a national museum and memorial devoted to slavery in the United States.
U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Democrat of Michigan, introduced a bill in 1989 calling for a study of possible reparations for the more than 200 years of legalized slavery in the United States -- launching an ongoing political debate on the issue.
Submitted by firstname.lastname@example.org
BRC-REPARATIONS: Black Radical Congress - Reparations Caucus
JULY 11TH RESOLUTION ON REPARATIONS (LCB FEEDBACK FORM)
July 13, 2001
BILL NUMBER: SJR 1 AMENDED BILL TEXT AMENDED IN ASSEMBLY JULY 9, 2001
INTRODUCED BY Senator Murray
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Aroner, Calderon, Canciamilla, Cardenas, Cedillo, Chan, Chavez, Chu, Cohn, Corbett, Cox, Diaz, Dutra, Firebaugh, Florez, Frommer, Goldberg, Havice, Hertzberg, Horton, Jackson, Keeley, Kehoe, Koretz, LaSuer, Liu, Longville, Lowenthal, Migden, NegreteMcLeod, Oropeza, Pavley, Reyes, Salinas, Shelley, Simitian, Steinberg, Strickland, Strom-Martin, Vargas, Washington, Wesson, Wiggins, Wright, and Zettel)
JANUARY 10, 2001 Senate Joint Resolution No. 1--Relative to slavery.
LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST
SJR 1, as amended, Murray. Slavery.
This measure would memorialize Congress to enact legislation similar to House Concurrent Resolution 356, which, among other things, would acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies, apologize to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States for the wrongs committed against their ancestors who suffered as slaves, and urge the establishment of a national museum and memorial regarding slavery as it relates to the history of the United States, and other significant African-American history. The measure would also memorialize Congress to enact legislation similar to House Resolution 40, which would establish the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans. Fiscal committee: no.
WHEREAS, Approximately 4,000,000 Africans and their descendants were enslaved in the United States and the 13 American colonies in the period 1619 through 1865; and
WHEREAS, Slavery was a grave injustice that caused and continues to cause African-Americans to suffer enormous damages and losses, both material and intangible, including the loss of human dignity and liberty, the frustration of careers and professional lives, and the long-term loss of income and opportunity; and
WHEREAS, Slavery in the United States denied African-Americans the fruits of their own labor and was an immoral and inhumane deprivation of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, citizenship rights, and cultural heritage; and
WHEREAS, Although the achievements of African-Americans in overcoming the evils of slavery stand as a source of tremendous inspiration, the successes of slaves and their descendants do not overwrite the failure of the nation to grant all Americans their birthright of equality and the civil rights that safeguard freedom; and
WHEREAS, An apology is an important and necessary step in the process of racial reconciliation, because a sincere apology accompanied by an attempt at real restitution is an important healing interaction; and
WHEREAS, A genuine apology may restore damaged relationships, whether they are between two people or between groups of people; and
WHEREAS, African-American art, history, and culture reflect experiences of slavery and freedom, and continued struggles for full recognition of citizenship and treatment with human dignity, and there is inadequate presentation, preservation, and recognition of the contributions of African-Americans within American society; and
WHEREAS, There is a great need for building institutions and monuments to promote cultural understanding of African-American heritage and further enhance racial harmony; and
WHEREAS, A commission to study reparation proposals for African-Americans should be established; now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate and Assembly of the State of California, jointly, That the Legislature respectfully memorializes the United States Congress to enact legislation similar to House Concurrent Resolution 356, which was introduced on June 19, 2000, and House Resolution 40, which was introduced on January 6, 1999; and be it further Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chairpersons of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, and to each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States.
This is not the final version of this resolution - but it is the last version we have posted on our web site. You can view this resolution by selecting Bill Information on the Official Legislative Information home page (www.leginfo.ca.gov), enter the number 1 in bill number box and click search. Select SJR 1 from the list of measures displayed. Scroll down the Bill Document screen for that measure to view the documents associated with that measure.
Submitted by email@example.com (Malik Hakim)
UNITED NATIONS RACISM CONFERENCE MAY BE DERAILED
July 25, 2001
LONDON (AP) - A U.N. conference against racism is in danger of being derailed by arguments over the term Holocaust and disputes over reparations for slavery and colonialism, Amnesty International said Wednesday.
In meetings ahead of the conference, member states have argued over whether Holocaust should refer specifically to Nazi atrocities against the Jews, or genocide in general, Amnesty's international program director Claudio Cordone said Wednesday.
Preparations for the Aug. 31 opening of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance have also been bogged down by disputes over how to deal with the legacy of the slave trade and colonialism, he said.
Cordone said the disputes could push countries to downgrade their participation at the conference in Durban, South Africa, and make it harder to reach a common platform.
``If at all that happens the world will have missed a unique opportunity to make a difference in the fight against racism, letting down the victims of discrimination in a spectacular way,'' he said.
According to Amnesty, time has been wasted debating the meaning of Holocaust - an issue raised by several Arab countries.
``The controversy over this issue is insensitive to the feelings of survivors of the Holocaust and is of no use to the fight against racism. They are creating a climate of division that risks undermining all aspects of the conference,'' Cordone said.
Also Wednesday, Israel complained of what it said were efforts by Arab countries to demonize it at the conference over its treatment of the Palestinians.
``According to proposals now on the table, Israel is the only country in the world which is breaching world principles of justice and is practicing racism, practicing genocide, practicing ethnic cleansing, practicing neo-apartheid,'' said Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior.
``I think there are a couple of other countries which also have some problems,'' he told foreign ambassadors in Jerusalem.
There have also been disputes on the issue of slavery's legacy. Last month, a two-week meeting in Geneva ended in deadlock over whether countries that prospered from slavery and colonialism should formally apologize for the suffering they caused - and pay compensation.
Africans want both, but Western nations led by the United States, Britain and Canada are resisting. Such arguments should be resolved in a different forum, Cordone argued.
The U.N. acknowledged Wednesday there was a danger that the conference could be derailed, but said there was enough common ground for it to be a success.
``There has to be a leap of political will. Countries are going to have to seize this opportunity to tackle these very important issues,'' said Jose Luis Diaz, spokesman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights - which is acting as the preparatory committee for the world conference.
``I think people around the world won't forgive countries for missing such an opportunity.''
On the Net:
Amnesty International: http://www.amnesty.org/
U.N. Conference against Racism: http://www.un.org/WCAR/
[Isnít it strange how the World and the U.S. especially rallied behind European Jews when they spoke and steadily speak out about the Jewish Holocaust, but the Israelis refuse to permit anyone to speak out about their racist behavior against the Palestinians? Also, who coined this word "Holocaust?" Is it only pertinent to White Jews?" And does that mean that there was/is no Native American and Black Holocaust? T.Y., Editor]
SAY NO TO REMOVAL OF REPARATIONS FROM WCAR
Jubilee South Africa
July 1, 2001
Press Statement For Immediate Release
Removal of reparations from the agenda of the Third United Nations World Conference Against Racism is a denial of violations of peopleís rights, including slavery, colonialism, apartheid and various forms of economic injustice. This was the clear message from the two-day international consultation on apartheid debt and reparations, involving Southern African and European Jubilee and other anti-debt movements,
held in Johannesburg on June 29th and 30th.
The delegates from ten countries said that a conference on racism that doesnít discuss slavery, colonialism and apartheid, and the need to repair the damage done, will at the outset fail be able to deal with the issue of racism.
The consultation affirmed that reparations are an acknowledgement of wrongdoing and send a message that human rights violations should not be repeated. In this light, the delegates opposed the attempt to remove the issue of ongoing discrimination against Palestine from the agenda.
The consultation further reasserted that victims of human rights violations have the right to seek justice, and be resolved to develop plans for alternative forms of popular action for reparations during the UN Conference.
After World War 2, it was the United Nations that adopted the declaration of human rights. For a United Nations conference on racism to exclude reparations is tantamount to a denial of:
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
The Convention on the Rights of the Child
The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
A UN Conference that does not address the need to restore the dignity and development of victims of racism will be nothing much more than a talk-shop.
Released by Jubilee South Africa on behalf of Jubilee and Anti-debt Campaigns in:
Germany, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Switzerland, Zambia, Zimbabwe
For further details, contact
Neville Gabriel at 083 449 3934
George Dor at 339 4121 or 648 7000
Campaign Against Neo-liberalism in South Africa (CANSA)
Can be contacted at the Johannesburg Office of the
Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC)
3rd fl Cosatu House, cnr Leyds and Biccard Streets,
Braamfontein, South Africa
60 Isipingo Street, Bellevue East 2198, South Africa
Tel during office hours:
27 11 339 4121
27 11 339 4123
Tel after office hours:
27 11 648 7000
Submitted by BRC-REPARATIONS: Black Radical Congress - Reparations Caucus
Questions/Problems: send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
OPEN LETTER TO THE BALTIMORE SUN CONCERNING REPARATIONS
Dear Mr. Hewitt:
I am writing to request that the Baltimore Sun do more feature articles about the international legal battle for Reparations for all African-Americans. In particular, I am asking that, after you carefully review the information at www.afre-ngo.org, you direct one of your editors or reporters to conduct an in-depth interview with the Honorable Silis Muhammad or one of his Ambassadors or Ministers.
Since 1998, Mr. Muhammad has repeatedly testified before diverse United Nations bodies in Geneva, Switzerland, concerning the ethnocide, genocide, forced assimilation and institutionalized racism which the U.S. government continues to impose upon 40 million African-Americans. He has repeatedly emphasized that Reparations is about our Restoration as a people--we need to be restored to our original language, original religion and original culture, we need to establish our own collective political identity in the international legal realm, and we deserve the leverage and power to mold our own destiny as a people. The Honorable Silis Muhammad has also urged the U.N. to establish a forum which would allow African-American representatives from North, Central, South America, and the Caribbean to collectively analyze the lingering effects of plantation slavery and the type of Reparations which would best advance all of us. In his April 12th 2001 intervention before the U.N. Human Rights Commission, Mr. Muhammad asked the U.N. to place a Reparations Sanction upon the U.S. government for her long-time and ongoing oppression of our people.
On May 3rd 2001 the U.N. removed the U.S.A. from the Human Rights Commission. Although that is not a sanction per se, it does indicate to many observers that a growing number of nations are fed up with America's posing as a champion of human rights worldwide while she continues to exploit and abuse a whole nation of Black people within her own borders. Seldom are articles published in the media about the courageous and noble work of the Honorable Silis Muhammad. America's ruling elite and the white mass media have striven mightily to hide this man's image and message from the masses for fear that the truths he is revealing will set in motion a new and powerful phase of our liberation movement. A man who works so hard for the benefit of all African-Americans, including future generations to be born, should not beclose to invisible. I hope that when you review the information at www.afre-ngo.org you will decide to give his efforts and all the efforts of those battling for full-strength Reparations regular front-page coverage in your newspaper.
By Minister Malik Al-Arkam
Submitted by email@example.com (Malik Hakim)
A WISE LIBERATION MOVEMENT USES
BROAD RANGE OF TACTICS
Minister Malik Al-Arkam
Boston Representative of the
Honorable Silis Muhammad
REPARATIONS MOVEMENT GAINING MOMENTUM
The Black World Today
July 6, 2001
To this day in 2001, forty million Black folks don't enjoy equal job opportunities, don't enjoy equal housing opportunities, don't enjoy equal banking opportunities, and don't enjoy equal justice under the law.
According to official statistics, African-American men who finish college still, even at the ages of 35-39, make just $739 for every $1,000 that white male college graduates make. More Black men are now in prisons than in higher education. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median net
worth of the white American family is about ten times that of the Black American family.
To their dismay, many Black voters in Florida found last November that their votes only count if the Caucasian power structure lets them count. Today the President who immorally gained office via the disenfranchisement of African-American citizens mocks them by systematically destroying the meager gains of the Civil Rights Movement and affirmative-action plans. Shortly before his assassination in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote: "White America has allowed itself to be indifferent to race prejudice and economic denial. It has treated them as superficial blemishes but now awakes to the horrifying reality of a potentially fatal disease. The American people are infected with racism -- that is the peril."
Even though the present political economy is intentionally designed to crush the masses of Black people, our unity, our spiritual power and our cumulative experiences motivate us to make a way where there is seemingly no way. A growing number of Black folks from all walks of life and from diverse political and religious persuasions are now joining their voices in a rising chorus to demand justice from the U.S. government in the form of Reparations. In March of 1994 the National Commission For Reparations, spear-headed by the Honorable Silis Muhammad and Attorney General Misshaki Muhammad, sent an historic Petition for Reparations to the United Nations office in Geneva, Switzerland.
All of America's citizens should know that this historic document was the prelude to a crucial legal and spiritual battle inside the United Nations which has intensified since Mr. Muhammad began making oral and written interventions in the U.N. in 1998. According to international law, the United States owes her Black victims massive restitutions in diverse forms, including but not limited to money, gold, equipment, exemption from unjust taxation, freedom for political prisoners, real estate, and, for all who desire, safe transportation back to our Original Homeland of Africa. And please remember this: Reparations are due to all Black descendants of slaves in America, regardless of their political outlook, economic status or religious preferences.
Starting in 1998 the Honorable Silis Muhammad began testifying before diverse United Nations bodies in Geneva. In May of that year he delivered an oral intervention before the Working Group On Minorities. In August, 1998 he delivered an oral statement before the Sub-Commission On The Promotion & Protection Of Human Rights. He stated that the slave descendants remain a lost people as the result of the lingering effects of slavery. He asked the United Nations to assist African-Americans by establishing a forum.
In March, 1999 Mr. Muhammad delivered a Written Statement to the Commission On Human Rights. In this he established his argument based on Article 27 of the International Covenant On Civil & Political Rights. He emphasized that the U.S. Constitution does not embody the living will of African-Americans. He charged the U.S. government with violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In May, 1999 Mr. Muhammad delivered an oral statement before the Working Group On Minorities. He asked if the African-American struggle for human dignity is not equal to that of groups struggling for human life. He stated that the death of the human spirit is a living hell.
In July 1999 the Honorable Silis Muhammad delivered a Written Statement to the Sub-Commission On The Promotion & Protection Of Human Rights. He stated that the U.S. government intentionally deprived our people of education in our Mother Tongue. He charged the U.S. with committing fraud against the United Nations and genocide against African-Americans. In August 1999 Mr. Muhammad delivered an oral statement to the Sub-Commission. He requested U.N. assistance under Article 27 and under the Declaration of the Rights of Minorities. He defined the condition of African-Americans as that of "civil death" and he charged the U.S. with perpetrating civil death upon our people. He pointed to the Mother Tongue as the key to preservation of identity and he again asked for a forum.
In April of the year 2000, Mr. Muhammad delivered the following address to the Human Rights Commission: "The lingering effects of plantation slavery leave my people and me in a deprived state. We are deprived of our mother tongue. Today, the United States of America grants minorities the use of their own language. But mine was forcibly taken away. I am denied and deprived of its use. Article 27 of the International Covenant On Civil & Political Rights, which the United States has ratified, declares: 'In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language.' We, the so-called African-Americans, in the aftermath of plantation slavery, cannot speak our own language, in community with other members of our group. The U.S. Government took it away. African Americans originate from many parts of Africa encompassing hundreds of languages.
Therefore, it would be impossible to implement the prayer of African-Americans regarding the loss of their 'mother tongue.' The inability to implement a remedy makes it impossible to enforce any law. Our prayer, however, is for Reparations. In this way America can address this legal and moral wrong: we will choose a language pleasing to us. This argument is being made by a group that represents only one tenth of one percent of African-Americans in the United States. Nonetheless, the argument is made. In conclusion, we ask that the United States pay Reparations to the so-called African-Americans, as the United States cannot restore our 'mother tongue,' if ever it wanted to. Nor should the United States continue, illegally to choose and force one upon us, which it has done for the last 400 years! We ask that the Commission On Human Rights recommend a Reparation Sanction against the United States to the ECOSOC and the General Assembly."
During the past several months AFRE (All For Reparations And Emancipation), the NGO which has been instrumental in opening doors for us at the U.N., forwarded key recommendations to the upcoming World Conference Against Racism which will soon convene in South Africa. One of these is as follows: "We recommend that the WCAR encourage the governments concerned to voluntarily and immediately establish tax-exempt status for slave descendants, a status which will be in effect until both Reparations and Restoration of Human Rights have been achieved."
In his April 12th 2001 intervention before the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Mr. Silis Muhammad again asked the United Nations to place a Reparations Sanction upon the U.S. government for its long-term and ongoing oppression of African-Americans. On May 3rd 2001 the U.N. removed the USA from the Human Rights Commission. Although that is not a sanction per se, it does indicate to many observers that a growing number of nations are fed up with America posing as a champion of democracy while abusing and exploiting millions of people within her own borders.
Presently the U.S. Government and the white mass media are busy trying to undermine and dilute the Reparations issue. They want to hide the noble work of the Honorable Silis Muhammad and other advocates of full-strength Reparations, while mis-directing millions of African-Americans into seeking justice inside the courts of the very same U.S. government which has oppressed us for centuries. Some of the Caucasian power structure's servants have suggested that maybe Blacks are owed some watered-down reparations in the form of so-called educational benefits, health benefits and business-development benefits to be designed by the malevolent ruling elite.
However, Mr. Muhammad and like-minded freedom fighters are demanding the complete Restoration of everything which was stolen from us. We want and deserve a lot more than just money: our own government, our own economy, some of this Earth that we can call our own and the freedom to mold and shape our own destiny as a people for countless generations to come.
By Minister Malik Al-Arkam firstname.lastname@example.org
RIGHTS LEADERS URGE POWELL TO ATTEND
U.N. RACISM CONFERENCE
N.Y. Times Article
UNITED NATIONS, July 10, 2001. A group of American civil rights leaders is pressing Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to go to a United Nations conference on racism and discrimination this summer to make a strong showing for the United States at a time when the Bush administration has been withdrawing from some international activities.
In a letter sent to Secretary Powell on Monday, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a broad coalition of 180 civil rights and human rights groups, asks him to aid "the global effort to eradicate the vestiges of racism, root and branch."
The letter urges him to lead a strong delegation to the conference in Durban, South Africa, which starts on Aug. 31, and to give the conference more generous support than the $250,000 budgeted by the Clinton administration before it left office.
The executive director of the leadership conference, Wade J. Henderson, said in an interview that there were several reasons to view the conference and a high-level American delegation as important.
"We're asking the secretary to lead the delegation, because we feel that his presence itself is a signal to the rest of the world the importance that the United States places on this conference," Mr. Henderson said, "and that there is a global agenda."
Some voices in the administration and private groups in the United States have questioned whether the United States should attend, contending that the agenda is unbalanced and incendiary.
Secretary Powell said on June 20 in a Senate hearing that issues like viewing Zionism as racism and compensation for slavery could derail the conference.
State Department officials said no decisions on participating had been made, although the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson, has met twice with Secretary Powell on the issue.
Some United Nations officials fear that the United States may not attend at all or may send a low-level delegation. Private American rights groups will be out in force, however, at a parallel unofficial conference, also in Durban.
"Powell's presence could help to influence the U.S. delegation to participate with a more open mind," Mr. Henderson said. For civil rights leaders, he added, "this is an important opportunity to try to use the U.N.'s stage as a way of reflecting back on what the United States both said and did in policies related to race. We want to use the international forum as a way to address our domestic agenda."
The planning for the meeting, formally the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, has already caused disagreements within and among various countries, including within the American government, human rights groups and United Nations officials said.
Nations have repeatedly failed to produce an agreement on what the conference aims should be.
In preparing an agenda and a declaration for the conference, some countries have sought language that others see as thinly veiled references to Israel that echo the anti-Zionist language of some United Nations documents of the 1970's.
Wording that was ultimately approved by planners is still provocative to some countries. One provision states, "Theories of superiority of certain races and cultures over others promoted and practiced during the colonial era continue to be propounded in one form or another even today." That rankles in some Western capitals.
In Africa and among some African-American organizations, there is pressure to concentrate the conference on seeking repayment for colonialism and reparations for the trans-Atlantic slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Secretary General Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian, has cautioned against making the conference a rehash of history rather than an examination of current problems.
In Lusaka, Zambia, on Monday, he told a meeting of African leaders, "While Africa and Africans have suffered terribly in the past few centuries from slavery and colonialism and people of African descent still suffer discrimination in many societies, we cannot hide the fact that today some of our own societies are also disfigured by ethnic hatred and violence."
He said the conference should produce "a document that looks unflinchingly at every society in the world" and "builds on the past but does not become a captive of it."
Mr. Henderson and Karen K. Narasaki, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, part of the leadership conference, said in interviews the broad scope of their coalition encompassing groups that represent women, minority groups and gay and disabled people, among others gave them standing at the conference with an equally broad array of foreign human rights groups.
For example, the coalition has a close relationship with organizations of untouchables, known as Dalits, in India, who fear they could be barred from traveling to Durban by the Indian government, which contends that the scope of the conference does not cover their interests.
The Dalit leader, Martin Macwan, a recipient of two American human rights awards, works closely with the leadership conference, Mr. Henderson said. "The rubric of `related intolerance,' it seems to us, incorporates them," he added.
Ms. Narasaki said the diversity of her consortium and the larger leadership conference also reflected a successful marriage between civil rights and human rights interests.
"We know the Department of Justice, and the human rights agencies know the State Department, where we have a lot less experience," she said. "Because of the breadth of our coalition, we have expertise on every issue."
By Barbara Crossette
Submitted by email@example.com.
The Bush Administration, speaking through Mr. Colin Powell, openly opposes approval of any compensation-for-slavery proposal at the upcoming WCAR. In truth, genuine Reparations must include not just monetary compensation, but the Restoration of a people who to this day are subjected to ethnocide, forced assimilation, and institutionalized racism.
Minister Malik Al-Arkam
[Secretary General Kofi Annan should know and realize that it is because of "history" Blacks are experiencing these "current" racist "problems." T.Y., Editor]
Stay strong in the struggle; we will win!
AFRICAN AMERICAN TASK FORCE ON THE UN/WCAR
July 18, 2001
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN MINORITIES (IHRAAM)
An International NGO in Consultative Status with the United Nations (UN)
AFRICAN-AMERICAN TASK FORCE ON THE UN/WCAR POSITION STATEMENT
FOR ALL CONCERNED DELEGATES TO THE NGO FORUM,
YOUTH SUMMIT & WCAR: DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA 2001
A Call for an African-American National Consultative Assembly
IHRAAM takes this opportunity to salute you and the organizations and people you represent in your continuing struggles for the realization of Human Rights.
The evolution of International Law today provides all oppressed, dominated and/or exploited peoples the rights (legal and moral) to question the authority of the state, its laws and institutions deemed responsible for the denial of Human Rights.
In order to question the authority of the state in relation to the need for new or reformed institutions in a politically functional and coherent manner, it is customary for aggrieved groups, minorities, nations, indigenous peoples, etc. to organize a political unity in keeping with democratic norms and international law through which they can be politically represented in relation to the government concerned, the United Nations (UN), other friendly nations, and the international community at large. Quite often it is the ability of a group, minority, etc. to politically and democratically "self-identify" and "self-organize" that will, from a practical point of view, determine the degree of seriousness with which its demands and grievances, in relation to its government, will be given serious consideration by that government, the UN or the international community at large.
The purpose of creating political unity should be not only to resolve the immediate socio-economic and political needs of the group denied equal status and its human dignity, but to attempt to do so first through mutually beneficial negotiations with the state concerned, with a view to improving the democratic, economic, environ-mental and developmental situation of the state as a whole, as well as that of the aggrieved group as a whole. Concomitantly, the group concerned must demonstrate its concern with the individual human rights of its members as well as with the rights of other groups, individuals and nations.
Indeed, joining with other free nations to achieve commonly-sought rights may seem to require greater effort than some may feel is desirable or required. However, the implementation of both minority rights and freedom in our world today and consequently of international law, carries an equal burden of responsibilities to others and to mother earth.
Keeping this in mind, IHRAAM's "SECOND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE RIGHT TO SELF-DETERMINATION & THE UN" will invite the leadership of all AFRICAN-AMERICAN and other targeted minorities or nations to:
(1) Give consideration to and assist in the democratic establishment of an AFRICAN-AMERICAN NATIONAL CONSULTATIVE ASSEMBLY as a first step in pursuing the implementation of the declarations and recommendations officially approved by the WCAR; and
(2) Seek to officially consult with government on the institutional needs and changes required to end racism and provide for Human Rights.
This Conference, which is scheduled to be held in Spring 2002, will also give consideration to the establishment of an INTERNATIONAL CONSULTATIVE ASSEMBLY (of minorities, peoples or internal nations who seek the right of self-determination). This body would attempt to establish an effective and efficient consultative relation with the UN in such a manner as to permit a greater input from civic society towards informing decisions related to the need for UN assistance or involvement in self-determination and racism conflicts, particularly in areas where the undemocratic nature of some UN organs, coupled with power politics, may obscure the dangers to global peace, human rights and socio-economic development (i.e. situations like that of the Zapatistas, the Palestinians, the Kashmiris, the Kurds, the Tamils, the African-Americans, the Native-Americans, the Dalits, the Catholics in Northern Ireland, the Chechens, the Puerto-Ricans, etc.)
In conclusion, IHRAAM and its AFRICAN-AMERICAN TASK FORCE ON THE WCAR are aware that the interest of African-Americans, as well as that of peoples of African descent, will be glued to the struggle for REPARATIONS (the admission of wrongdoing and thereby the obligation to satisfy, compensate or restore). Indeed, IHRAAM fully supports and promotes this effort and feels that the raising of this question in the WCAR forum will be the most spectacular and important achievement and contribution of the WCAR, even though concerned governments will take time in officially recognizing these past wrong doings and their obligation to provide reparations. One of the duties of an AFRICAN-AMERICAN NATIONAL CONSULTATIVE ASSEMBLY will be to facilitate and plan for such a process. An INTERNATIONAL CONSULTATIVE ASSEMBLY (of minorities, peoples or internal nations who seek the right to self-determination) would have similar goals in regard to its consultation with the UN in relation to the situations above mentioned.
Again, IHRAAM salutes each and every one of you and wishes you success and peace.
IHRAAM Directorate, and Members, AFRICAN-AMERICAN TASK FORCE ON THE WCAR
An International NGO in Consultative Status with the UN
Submitted by firstname.lastname@example.org (IHRAAM)
It Is The Black Fool Who Says I Have Lost Nothing In Afrika!!
Much love to the Afrikan nation.
NETHERLANDS RATIFIES INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
NY Times Article
Netherlands Ratifies International Criminal Court
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The Netherlands, the future home of the International Criminal Court, became on Tuesday the 37th nation to ratify the treaty creating the tribunal designed to try the world's most heinous crimes against humanity.
Sixty countries must deposit papers of ratification with the United Nations certifying their national legislatures had ratified the pact before the court can be established, and supporters predicted the required ratifications could be reached within the next 10 to15 months.
The International Criminal Court, based on the principles of Nazi war crime trials at the end of World War Two, is to be set up in The Hague, Netherlands, to judge those accused of mass murders, war crimes and other atrocities.
The Dutch parliament ratified the treaty last week, enabling Ambassador Dirk Jan van den Berg to deposit the ratification papers on the third anniversary of the treaty's adoption by a U.N. conference in Rome on July 17, 1998.
The U.N. Security Council has set up two temporary courts, one for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and the other to try perpetrators of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. But the new court would be the first permanent international tribunal.
A total of 139 countries have signed the treaty, including the United States, which did so in the final days of Bill Clinton's presidency.
But the administration of President Bush, which took office in January, has served notice it would not ratify the pact. The Pentagon fears it could be used to try U.S. military personnel.
Some administration officials want the United States to rescind its signature from the treaty. Others want Washington to mount a campaign to prevent the court, supported strongly by Europeans, from getting established.
France, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland are among the European countries who have previously ratified the treaty. Britain is expected to do so in September.
President Bush strongly opposes the International Criminal Court because he knows that the U.S. government has long practiced ethnocide, genocide and forced assimilation against millions of African-Americans. He also knows that there is hard evidence that the U.S. government intentionally developed the AIDS virus. He deeply fears the day when the U.S. government (and individual representatives thereof) will be formally charged with diverse violations of international law and human rights.
Submitted by BRC-REPARATIONS: Black Radical Congress - Reparations Caucus
Questions/Problems: send email to <email@example.com>
[The United States does not fear that this international court would be used to try U.S. military personnel. The United States fears that its image would be marred because of its past involvement in the TransAtlantic Slave Trade and its unjust treatment of Descendants of Slaves - bringing Truth to surface that the U.S. IS NOT a proponent of Human Rights. Letís call a spade a spade! T.Y., Editor]
LONG-RANGE JUSTICE RAISES FEARS FOR SOVEREIGNTY
NY Times Article
From Augusto Pinochet to Slobodan Milosevic, the arm of the law is growing longer and the world smaller for national leaders and others accused of atrocities.
What is dawning, human rights lawyers say, is an age of justice without borders ó and not everyone is happy about it.
The trend, while celebrated by human rights advocates, is being viewed by some lawyers and governments as an alarming challenge to national sovereignty and a potentially unpredictable political
The case of Mr. Milosevic, the former Serbian leader who was handed over to an international tribunal this week, more than any other "demonstrates that even the highest government officials are vulnerable to international prosecution for the most heinous human rights crimes," said Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch.
"It's a momentous occasion for Milosevic's victims, who might see a modicum of justice done," said Mr. Roth, whose organization strongly supports what is called "universal jurisdiction" for human rights offenses. "But it's also an historic moment for the human rights movement," he added, "because it will begin to force would-be tyrants to think twice before replicating Milosevic's atrocities."
Some fear, however, that such a trend could have a paralyzing effect on government decision-making and warn that there are no guarantees that such prosecutions ó which are hopscotching borders in roundabout ways ó will be even-handed, indicting the friends as well as the foes of great powers.
Nonetheless, there is a trend ó whether justice is pursued by international tribunals, under national laws or by states and prosecutors claiming that some crimes are so awful that the accused should have no place to hide.
There was Manuel Noriega, the dictator of Panama who was seized by the United States in 1989, and convicted in 1992 of drug trafficking. There is Augusto Pinochet, the former Chilean strongman, who spent a year and a half in British custody on a Spanish warrant before being allowed to return home, where his legal problems continue. Hissan Habre, the former ruler of Chad, was under arrest in Senegal until a new government turned him loose last year, but his fate remains uncertain. Jean Kambanda, a former Rwandan prime minister, went to jail for life last year for his role in his country's 1994 genocide, mostly of ethnic Tutsi.
Others may have their days in court. Peru is demanding extradition from Japan of its former president, Alberto K. Fujimori. A Belgian prosecutor is trying to open proceedings against Saddam Hussein of Iraq, whose case is also being studied by American officials.
Foday Sankoh, though not a head of state, will almost certainly face proceedings in Sierra Leone for leading a particularly vicious rebel army against a government in which he was a minister.
At the Yale Law School, Ruth Wedgwood, a professor of international law, said the idea of universal jurisdiction first arose in 1919, in an abortive attempt to put Kaiser Wilhelm on trial for World War I. "The U.S. was quite reluctant," Ms. Wedgwood said, in part because of the fuzziness of one of the charges, "crimes against the principles of humanity," the predecessor to crimes against humanity. "It's funny what a difference time makes," she said.
After World War II, the Nuremberg trials of Nazi officials were the century's high point in the use of universal jurisdiction for war crimes. But after that, this kind of law became a narrow specialist field, Ms. Wedgwood said.
Now, she calls it "a growth industry," revived in recent years with the establishment of war crimes tribunals for the Balkans and Rwanda, and with the impending opening of the International Criminal Court, perhaps within the next two years.
That court will be the first permanent body charged with trying individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The United States remains a reluctant nation, and has opposed setting up a permanent international criminal court, in part over fears that it could someday be used to prosecute its own soldiers or leaders.
William Pace, convenor of the Coalition for an International Criminal Court, said that the speed the movement for universal jurisdiction has picked up in a decade is remarkable.
"Between 1989 and 1995," he said, "virtually every international affairs expert promised us that there would never be a statute to create an International Criminal Court, that it would take another 30, 50, 100 years."
"Equally, we have been told over the years that never will we see Milosevic transferred to The Hague," he added. "One of the messages here is that patience works. The era of impunity is being replaced by a new era of international law and justice."
Hans Corell, the United Nations' legal counsel and a central figure in drawing up plans for international tribunals, said the establishment of the International Criminal Court will strengthen the hands of those who want to bring an errant leader to trial.
"From now on, people know in advance that there is a court to which criminals can be taken," he said.
But other legal scholars are disturbed by threats aimed at Yugoslavia by rich nations, especially the United States, that money to rebuild the country would be withheld until Mr. Milosevic was turned over.
And Henry A. Kissinger, writing in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, warns against what he sees as a dangerous mix of law and politics in what he acknowledges has become a growing movement for universal jurisdiction over the last decade.
Mr. Kissinger, whom some strident critics want to see face trial for his policies in Cambodia during the Vietnam War, writes that a universal system "must not allow legal principles to be used as weapons to settle political scores."
He sees a possible chilling effect on makers of foreign policy, who would have to weigh whether they could be prosecuted for acting on behalf of what they see as their nation's interests.
Mr. Kissinger himself was recently haunted by American involvement in Chile when he was secretary of state almost 30 years ago, as a Paris judge tried to summon him to answer questions in the Pinochet prosecution.
By Barbara Crossette
The U.S. government fears the establishment of the International Criminal Court which could be used one day to prosecute U.S. leaders and soldiers for crimes against humanity. The USA is the greatest human rights violator on the planet. To this day it continues to practice ethnocide, genocide, forced assimilation and institutionalized racism against 40 million African-Americans while ignoring our just demand for Reparations. For evidence that the U.S. government developed the AIDS virus, please visit www.boydgraves.com For detailed updates on the international legal battle for Reparations for all African-Americans, visit www.afre-ngo.org
Minister Malik Al-Arkam
Submitted by AlArkam@webtv.net
N E W P A N T H E R V A N G U A R D
M O N T H L Y C O M M U N I T Y F O R U M
"Reparations: Does the United Nations Have a Role to Play?"
This important and timely forum will discuss the upcoming United Nations' sponsored World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR), and the efforts of the New Panther Vanguard Movement and other Non-Governmental Organizations who are attempting to place the issue of "reparations for African in the Americas and in Africa, and other Indigenous Peoples' on the working agenda of the World Conference, which is scheduled for Durban, South Africa, from August 31 to September 7, 2001.
NVPM Chairman, B. Kwaku Duren will speak at and moderate this forum and will also be attending the WCAR on behalf of the NPVM's Intercommunal Reparations Campaign. During the evening rap artist, D-Dash will perform the newly released CD single, Reparations Are Due! The NPVM's Reparations Survival Kit will also be available for purchase.
Co-sponsored by Community Services Unlimited, Inc.
New Media CO-OP
CO-OP BLACK WEB TOUR
WWW.GLOBALPANTHER.COM IS NEW PANTHER VANGUARD MOVEMENT, THE INTERNATIONAL PANTHER HEADQUARTERS
Noting my own renaissance in the Civil Rights Movement, via the Reparations Movement three years ago at a meeting at the International Panther Headquarters in Los Angeles, California, and a recent press release of the 35th Anniversary Reunion and Conference of the Black Panther Party, October 11-14, 2001, I offer this site next on the Black Web Tour as an important site in our history and our future. The site is intriguing and beautifully tranquil. The General Information link provides links to the Code of Conduct, the Ten Point Platform and Program, how to Get Involved and Reparations pages. And, there is a lot more.
The New Panther Vanguard Movement and other Non-Governmental Organizations who are attempting to
place the issue of "reparations for Africans in the Americas and in Africa, and other Indigenous People's on the working agenda of the World Conference scheduled for Durban, South Africa from August 31, to September 7, 2001.
Surf in at http://WWW.GLOBALPANTHER.COM and reach the New Panther Vanguard Movement at NPVM@GLOBALPANTHER.COM <mailto:NPVM@GLOBALPANTHER.COM>.
Submitted by "Tammy Lee" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
New Media CO-OP
NVMP Chairman, B. Kwaku Duren will be attending the World Conference Against Racism on behalf of the NPVM's Intercommunal Reparations Campaign / The World Conference Against Racism
NVMP Chairman, B. Kwaku Duren
The International Panther Headquarters
1470 West Martin Luther King Blvd. (between Western and Normandie) in Los Angeles.
Tel. # (323) 296-4383.
Peace Brothers and Sisters,
Are you doing the work in your community to help win Reparations Now In Our Lifetime????There are many things you can do. Make sure your membership in NíCOBRA is current. Participate in your local NíCOBRA Chapter. Start a Chapter, if there isnít one in your area. Plan to attend the NíCOBRA National Conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on June 22-24, 2001 at Southern University. And inform others about the Reparations Movement.
For further information contact Rhazard988@AOL.COM
Ölet's work together to heighten this righteous call for justice.
Peace and Power,
JOIN THE BLACK REPARATIONS MOVEMENT TODAY !
IT IS A WIN, WIN CASE FOR US!
Oscar L. Beard
The Reparations Movementís goals are as follows:
- Obtain Reparations from all countries that prospered from Black Slave Labor
Schedule Conferences, Marches, and Protests until the White Society apologizes and
compensates Descendants of the Slave Trade
- Speak at the United Nations on Reparations for Survivors of the Slave Trade in order
to gain International Support of all or most countries
- Demonstrate in front of the UN in Geneva for World Attention
- Establish an International Fund for Descendants of Slaves
- Target Companies that existed during the days of Slavery for Reparations, and if they
do not comply, then list them as "Unworthy" for Black patronage
- Seek support for Reparations from Companies that prosper off of Black Clients
- Seek Celebrity support for Reparations
- Involve the Media
- Make "Reparations" the buzz word for 2000
- Etc., etc., and by "any means necessary" within the Law
IN SUPPORT OF REPARATIONS!
and DO SOMETHING IN SUPPORT OF REPARATIONS! OR THERE CAN BE NO REAL - PEACE!
RACISM CONDEMNATION HITS OBSTACLES
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
June 27, 2001
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Negotiations over a universal condemnation of racism is hitting age-old obstacles -- debate over castes, colonialism and whether former slave nations such as the United States should pay reparations, a top U.N. official said Wednesday.
Mary Robinson, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said she is worried that Western countries are shying away from an anti-racism declaration because they're wary of shining a spotlight on their past sins.
``There are dark corners and problems for countries that they are somewhat reluctant to have addressed globally,'' she told reporters in New York Wednesday where she has been attending a global U.N. conference on AIDS.
Diplomats are trying to get a draft done in time for the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, set for Aug. 31-Sept. 7.
But a two-week meeting in Geneva intended to draw up an agenda and draft for the declaration ended in deadlock June 1, over whether countries that benefited from slavery should formally apologize and pay compensation. Participation has been lukewarm from many countries, including the United States.
Robinson said she was starting a last-ditch effort to drum up support -- visiting diplomats and asking famous human rights activists such as Nelson Mandela to stump for the measure.
Last week, she visited Secretary of State Colin Powell to urge him to attend, but failed to get a promise.
One of the main sticking points has been whether the United States and other countries are guilty of crimes against humanity because of past slavery.
Some American blacks have demanded compensation for past abuses like the $4.3 billion that Germany recently agreed to pay victims of Nazi slave labor.
``The dehumanizing impact of stripping people of their names, of their identities, of their families, and fattening them for export... these are crimes against humanity now,'' Robinson said.
Robinson said reparations might include monuments, museums and historical education programs, not just money.
Last week, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States' participation in the Durban meeting depends on how slavery -- as well as alleged discrimination against Palestinians in Israel -- figure on the agenda.
``Financial reparations and a formal apology (for slavery) would do nothing to address racism and discrimination today,'' Boucher said. ``The conference should address current problems.''
The discussions will also likely skirt the issue of discrimination between castes, which countries like India and Nepal are trying to fight, but would rather keep out of the international spotlight, Robinson said.
The U.S. wariness has angered black U.S. lawmakers, who met with Robinson last week and urged the Bush administration to participate.
``It's the brave and the courageous countries of the world, particularly the western ones who participated in colonialism, who participated in the slave trade, whose voices need to be heard to say, `Let us correct this wrong,''' Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Submitted by email@example.com
[One thing is clear, and that is WE WILL NOT JUST SETTLE FOR THE LIKES OF MONUMENTS, MUSEUMS, AND HISTORICAL EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS FOR THE HUMAN RIGHTS ATROCITIES THAT WE HAVE ENDURED, and itís an insult to even suggest it. No one made this suggestion to the European Jews. And if the leaders of the countries that instituted the TransAtlantic Slave Trade do no wish to discuss their past Human Rights crimes in a forum, then they should seek alternative means to resolve racism and Reparations to the satisfaction of all parties concerned. It would appear that White Societies are the only ones permitted to point the finger and identity grievances. Isnít this the very injustice that WCAR is all about? T.Y., Editor]
*****MARK YOUR CALENDAR OF EVENTS*****
SUNDAY REPARATIONS MEETINGS
Muhammad Mosque of Islam in Boston, Massachusetts invites you to attend weekly meetings each Sunday at the Dillaway located at:
183 Roxbury Street
(Next to the Timilty School, in Roxbury)
Meetings start at 2:00 PM, but on the last Sunday of the month we start at 1:00 PM.
For more information and to schedule free lectures on Reparations at your church, school, business or organization, feel welcome to telephone Minister Malik Al-Arkam at (617) 770-2017.
July 29, 2001
REPARATIONS AND BLACK EMPOWERMENT
183 Roxbury Street
Roxbury, Massachusetts (Next to the Timilty School)
Time: 2:00 P.M.
Lecture will focus on: the seldom-publicized international legal battle for broad Reparations for all African-Americans. It will include an update on the ill-conceived plans of the U.S. government to undermine Reparations at the upcoming World Conference Against Racism which will convene in a few weeks in Durban, South Africa.
The speaker, Minister Malik Al-Arkam, is the Boston representative of the Honorable Silis Muhammad, who has repeatedly testified in person before diverse United Nations bodies, including the Human Rights Commission, concerning ethnocide, genocide, forced assimilation and institutionalized racism, as well as the urgent need for a U.N. forum in which African-Americans can explore the exact forms that Reparations should take. You, your families and friends are most welcome to attend this timely lecture.
CONTACT: Muhammad's Mosque of Islam: (617) 770-2017
FREE THE MIND... FREE THE PEOPLE... FREE THE LAND
THE NATIONAL COALITION OF BLACKS FOR
REPARATIONS IN AMERICA (NíCOBRA)
THE REPARATIONS EDUCATION AND MOBILIZATION CONFERENCE
SCHEDULED FOR JUNE 29/30, 2001 WAS POSTPONED!
August 31, 2001 - September 7,2001
THE LEGACY OF THE BLACK POWER MOVEMENT
THE UNITED NATIONS WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM
The December 12th Movement,based in New York, and The National Black United Front (NBUF) are co-sponsoring a Black Power conference in support of the United Nations World Conference Against Racism.
The United Nations World Conference Against Racism will be held in Durbin, South Africa from August 31, 2001 - September 7, 2001.
By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill
YOU MUST BE IN SOUTH AFRICA NEXT AUGUST 2001!
To All Concerned African People:
The United Nations' World Conference against Racism begins August 31, 2001 in Durban, South Africa. The December 12th Movement International Secretariat is seeking you to be a part of the Delegation of 400 African people to South Africa in support of two crucial issues:
1) Declaration of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade as a Crime against Humanity
2) Reparations for Africans in the Diaspora and on the Continent.
Malcolm X said that we must put our situation on the international agenda, in the international arena.We must be there in a massive presence to defend our human rights.
Join us, if you want to go to Durban in support of these issues. The application is included in the text of this message, as well as an attached document in .rtf format.
We estimate that the total cost for the trip (the Conference is from August 31, to September 7), i.e., travel, lodging and meals, will be approximately $2500. If you are planning to go we need a deposit of $250.00 immediately.
We, along with the National Black United Front, are working with a Black Travel Agency based in Chicago which has already made airline travel arrangements to and reserved blocks of hotel rooms in Durban. Your check or money order should be made out to AARCO TRAVEL AND TOURS and should be sent to the:
December 12th Movement
456 Nostrand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11216
For more information on the World Conference against Racism and the struggle to defend the human rights of African people, contact us at:
IF YOU WISH TO GO TO SOUTH AFRICA, PLEASE FILL OUT THE FORM BELOW.
APPLICATION FORM FOR THE DURBAN 400
ORGANIZATIONAL AFFILIATION (if any):
YES: I want to be a member of the Durban 400. Enclosed is my check in the
amount of $_______________.
October 19/20, 2001
PHILOSOPHY BORN OF STRUGGLE CONFERENCE ON
RACE, REPARATIONS, AND RESTITUTION
Place: Brown University
J. Everet Green
37 Old Oregon Road
New York, New York 10567
October 19, 20, 21, 2001
55TH AFRIKAN DIASPORA NATION STATE CONFERENCE
We need to practice Ujima(Collective Work and Responsibility) and send in early Registration Fees and Donations to pay for this Kujichagulia (Self Determined) conference, through Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics). Pan Afrikan Black Nationalist have for scores of decades developed Kummba and held on to Imani. Now the time has come to practice what we have organized around. Umoja and Self Determination "By any means necessary." Or Are you spewing rhetoric without substance?
"Idle words....make for idle minds... creating idle bodies..... Power to the people.....
Hotels / Motels:
1800 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd.
West Palm Beach, Fl. 33401
Group rate 15 rms. - $ 52. + tax
2300 45th. Street
West Palm Beach. Fl.33407
(561) 689-0450 (Kate Riley)
Group rate 10 rms. - $49. + tax (single or double)
1601 Belvedere Rd.
West Palm Beach, Fl. 33406
No Group rate available at this time * $99. Single $119. suites + tax
All rooms are within five (5) miles of conference site. Transportation will be provided by schedule to and from Hotel / Motel stops. The conference space will be centrally located to all motels. Some motels will set aside at least ten (10) rooms for our conference and will provide group rates as we meet the group room minimum. You must make your own motel reservations. Ask for shuttle service from the airport, bus, or train stations. Please REGISTER EARLY for the conference. Your Registration Fee will all go toward conference expenses. Donít forget to let advise us of where you intend to stay.
Registrations Form (copy and return via E-mail):
55TH AFRICAN NATION DIASPORA STATE CONFERENCE
AFRIKAN NATION STATE PRE-REGISTRATION FORM
Name____________________________ Phone #______ _____________________
Address __________________________ Country___________________________
City______________________________ State____ District./Region_____________
I (We) will staying at: __________________________________________________
$40 Registration Fee Enclosed __ Yes __ No
Donation Included $_______
Please make Checks and Money Orders Payable to: Robert Hazard. Send all mail to the following address * Mawusi c/o Robert Hazard * P.O. Box 2186 * West Palm Beach, Fl. 33402. For information and assistance call Robert Mawusi Hazard at (561) 881-8298. Round trip transportation from the motels to the conference will be scheduled.
November 28 Ė December 2, 2001
THE "STATE OF THE BLACK WORLD" CONFERENCE
Convenes in Atlanta November 28 Ė December 2, 2001 at the Georgia International Convention Center.
"A set of goals and objectives have been outlined," he said. "We hope to identify, analyze and discuss the critical crises and issues facing Black people. We also hope to provide some sort of leadership and skill development training to enhance our collective capacity to engage the struggle for liberation."
"Our agenda also includes discussion of meaningful definitions of liberation and reconstruction, intensifying the global movement for reparations and working towards the convening of an International Black Arts and Cultural Festival,"
For more information, call 1-866-ATL-SOBW or visit www.TBWT.com
"Power never conceded without a demand, it never did and never will - where there is no struggle, there is no progress." F. Douglas
BECOME A MEMEBER OF N'COBRA. Visit us at www.NíCOBRA.com, write the national headquarters at:
P.O. Box 62622
Washington. D.C. 20029-2622
E-mail me for further information about the WCAR at firstname.lastname@example.org or write:
P.O. Box 8003
Englewood, NJ 07631.
*Onaje Mu'id is a human rights activist with the International Commissioner of N'COBRA and Policy Chair of the National Black Alcoholisms and Addiction Council-New York Chapter and Ndundu member of the Council of Independent Black Institutions.
The book listing on Reparations and Black History can be found in REPNOW Newsletters 1 - 5.
WE SHALL WIN THIS WAR!
Imari A. Obadele
The web address for Without Sanctuary" is listed in the REPNOW Newsletter #13.
Please pass this information on to others for it is out ofÖ
AMERICA'S SHAME: CONTEMPT & THE LYNCHINGS
James Allenís photos on the lynchings of Blacks in America
See a wide range of E-mail Addresses & WebSites on REPARATIONS in the REPNOW Issue #13.
THE NEW REPUBLIC: AGAINST REPARATIONS
JOHN MCWHORTER | Against Reparations
<Can black people believe in America? Is the measure of a community's strength how articulately they can call for charity? John McWhorter on the latest fashion in African American pessimism, and why it should be rejected.>
The New Republic: Against Reparations
For the record, the author is black:
CHECK IT OUT:
JOHN MCWHORTER can be emailed directly at: email@example.com
In response to the above article, Khalifah writes:
While we appreciate your communiques, BIG TIME! It is debatable as to whether we should waste the time of our readers with the diatribe and dribble of a "wanna be" clone of uncle Clarence Thomas and uncle Ward Connerly.
Right now he is a -0- who wroter a -0- book of uselessness denigrating the Noble Struggle of Afrikan people...it was only the third book that I seriously considered NOT FOLLOWING MY OWN POLICY in the publication of YOUR BLACK BOOKS GUIDE over the last 12 years. That is, any new books sent to me as "review copy" for distribution consideration, I automatically note it by listing it in the section alled "NEW BOOKS RECEIVED SINCE LAST EDITION." The other two book that got this kind of treatment were a book from a fellow named Frederick K. Price and another named Ken Hamblin.
The one thing we can all give generously to the likes of modern day "uncle" toms is that they have learned their craft well....REPARATIONS IS SUCH AN EXPLOSIVE ISSUE, even those taking opposing views to it will get their "15 minutes of fame...."
KHALIFAH'S BOOKSELLERS & ASSOCIATES
Producers & Disseminators of the Literature that is Finally Freeing Afrikan People:
"Those at Home and those abroad!"
I am Gregory Carey, Founder and President of Reparations Central, an online reparations searchable database. We would like for you to view our website that is in the development stage at http://www.reparationscentral.com
We are also attempting to unify and centralize the reparations movement.We are looking for other organizations that are doing reparations work to put on our website. Also, we are asking every organization to consider putting an audio/video presentation on our website. This website is the hub of the reparations movement worldwide. We need your support and help to make this reparations clearinghouse a successful venture.
Aluta Continua Asante Sana
HOW CAN I SUPPORT THE REPARATIONS MASS MOVEMENT?
1.) I suggest that you approach the city in which you reside for reparations, support for reparations, or information as to how to obtain reparations. Your strategy may be a model we all may benefit from at the local level.
2.) Next, demonstrate your willingness to join others in the struggle for reparations.
3.) I would hope that you join or start an NíCOBRA chapter in your locale area (if there is none) and become an active and energetic member/reparations information resource, for your Afrikan brothers and sisters.
Submitted by R. Hazard, NíCOBRA
"Together We shall Win REPARATIONS NOW!!!"
Free Your Mind - Join NíCOBRA.... Free The People.... Free The Land...
S.E. Regional Rep. NíCOBRA
"If you are thinking one year ahead, sow a seed.
if you thinking ten years ahead, plant a tree.
If you thinking one hundred years ahead ...
educate the people."
A Manchurian Proverb
Compliments of Shakira A. Ali
Up You Mighty Race; We Can Accomplish What We Will!!!!
I Remain to Serve,
INTERESTING INFORMATION OF SIGNIFICANCE AND FYI:
SUPPORT THE DEMAND FOR BLACK REPARATIONS
WHY AS A NATIVE AMERICAN I SUPPORT
THE DEMAND FOR BLACK REPARATIONS
The Freedom Socialist
July-September 2001 [Vol. 22, No. 2]
As an Alaskan Native who knows genocide up front and personal, I find it natural to stand with my African American sisters and brothers in demanding that the U.S. pay reparations to the descendants of Black slaves.
The history of Native Americans and Blacks making common cause goes back at least to 1503, when a viceroy colonizing Haiti for Spain wrote to King Ferdinand to complain that African slaves "fled among the Indians and taught them bad customs and never could be captured."
Five hundred years later -- after the country created by the outright theft of Black labor and Native land has become the world's richest superpower -- unity remains our best weapon in the unfinished fight for freedom and justice.
A promise yet to be kept
Civil War General William T. Sherman first made reparations an issue in 1865, when he ordered that huge tracts of land captured from the Confederacy be distributed to 40,000 newly freed slaves. His order, known as the "40 Acres and a Mule Proclamation," turned into legislation passed by Congress -- but vetoed by President Andrew Johnson.
In the last dozen or so years, with conditions for most Blacks sharply worsening in the middle of a supposed economic boom, the demand for compensation has come to the fore again.
Starting in 1989, U.S. Representative John Conyers Jr. began annually introducing legislation calling for a study of the lasting effects of slavery and possible reparations. And last year, a book by Randall Robinson called The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks drew attention to the issue. A number of groups are now working on class-action suits or lobbying Congress for restitution.
Some battles for reparations to African Americans have already been won.
The government paid $10 million in 1997 to people victimized by syphilis experiments in the 1930s. The Florida legislature agreed to pay survivors, and relatives of those who suffered, for the loss of life and property when the all-Black town of Rosewood was destroyed by a white mob in 1923. And Oklahoma is considering payments to survivors and descendants for the destruction of Tulsa's Black neighborhoods in 1921.
Creating a tide to lift us all
The word reparations comes from a Latin term meaning "to repair." Is it possible to repair 500 years of brutal enslavement? Never. But is restitution logical and necessary? Absolutely!
The consequences of slavery reach all the way into the 21st century, and the racism that was created to justify this economically motivated institution is still alive and well. I work as an attorney for the Puyallup nation in Washington state, and I deal every day with the toll that racism, past and present, takes on the lives of a people. Reparations won't right former wrongs or resolve current problems, but they could make a real difference in people's lives.
Most proponents of redress, among whom are the Black Radical Congress and many other African American and left organizations, haven't yet put forward a specific plan for how it would happen. My belief is that compensation should be made both to individuals and on a collective basis.
First, each African American of slave ancestry should be paid an amount at least equivalent to the cost today of 40 acres of good, tillable land.
Second, we need an enforceable commitment from the government to fully fund programs to create opportunities and provide essential services for Blacks in employment, education, housing, education, and healthcare -- for as long as inequalities and de facto segregation still exist. This should include restoring and expanding affirmative action!
Many people who might be sympathetic in principle to reparations for African Americans, including some Indians and other people of color, are keenly aware of how little there is to go around among poor and workingclass people. They worry about where the money will come from, and if the cost will somehow boomerang back on them.
I say that the monetary responsibility rests first of all on the large corporations, who reap the benefits of uneven wage scales and continuing discrimination. Forget tax cuts for big business! Instead, a new tax should be added and its funds channeled to compensation.
Second, already existing taxes should be redirected. The government spends astronomical sums on the Pentagon, police and prisons, three of society's most racist structures. Take money away from these bloated institutions of control and put it into reparations!
The call for Black reparations is reasonable and fair. So too were the Indian land claims that resulted in huge settlements with Alaskan Natives and the Puyallup tribe in recent years. And so too was the popular demand for compensation from companies exploiting Alaska's oil that resulted in every registered state resident getting what is essentially a dividend check every year. And the same goes for reimbursements made to Holocaust survivors and Japanese Americans for historical abuses.
Payments to these groups and individuals helped set the stage for the push today to win reparations for Blacks. The lesson we need to learn from our common history of mistreatment and struggle is that when a battle is won for one group, it strengthens all of us.
The last thing that we people of color need to be doing is fighting among ourselves over the little bit that the powers-that-be want to allow us. Instead, we need to demand more from the system for all working and poor people. If it won't deliver, that doesn't mean we turn against each other -- it just means we need to turn together against the system!
By Debra O'Gara, a Tlingit Indian who lives in Seattle, has worked on cases defending treaty fishing and hunting rights as a lawyer for the Puyallup tribe.
Submitted by firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com (Henry Noble)
BRC-NEWS: Black Radical Congress - General News Articles/Reports
WHY THE-POWERS-THAT-BE OWE BLACKSÖBIG TIME!
PARADIGMS OF SANITY
"We cannot talk about a people that has enslaved us, who discriminate against us, who insult us, who do all manner of other things against us and then use them as models of normality. We cannot use these people who are criminals, who have the world on the edge of suicide, who are now getting ready to negotiate about how many bombs they are going to keep for destroying the earth - how they are going to distribute death to the rest of the world - as models of normality!" -- Dr. Amos N. Wilson
Those of us who are critical thinkers view our oppressors as their history and behavior demand they be seen: as purveyors of disruption, disease and death; and not as the pristine civilizers, or benefactors of humanity they would have us believe them to be. To identify with the white oppressors, who have abused and degraded African people, is insane and counterproductive.
To glorify and imitate their behavior bespeaks not just of brainwashing, but of menticide, the deliberate destruction of a people's psyche. When we were seeking escape or sought ways to thwart their vile systems of slavery, racial caste, political and cultural subjugation, the oppressors in their dementia, called us "crazy".
Whites even invented new words to describe the resistance our ancestors exerted to get from under the stultifying and dehumanizing conditions in the ante bellum South. Such terms as:
Dysaethesia Aethiopica, or Africans who deliberately destroyed the crops of the plantation owners.
They called it Drapetomania when our ancestors ran away.
Goofy whites listed the symptoms as "a sulky, dissatisfied attitude," as if sane human beings should be overjoyed being abused, dehumanized, beaten, raped and forced to work from "can't see in the morning to can't see at night," in exchange for table scraps and tattered clothing.
Some additional terms which actually reveal more about the mental fortitude of our ancestors than any mental affliction are: obstinate, habitual runaways, incorrigible scamps, ingrates and the ever popular insolent, which signifies the unbroken spirit and will to be free of the enslaved people.
If only more of us had the self-determination of our ancestors!
They aptly demonstrated resistance to internalizing the self-congratulatory, delusional image Europeans had of themselves when they sang in the old camp song:
"I got shoes, we got shoes, all God's children got shoes. When we (meaning Africans) get to heaven (freedom) we goin' to walk all over God's heaven, heaven. Everybody (white folks) talkin about heaven ain't goin' there, heaven ..."
Under no circumstances did our ancestors view the people who were beating them, subjecting them to all manner of depravity and abuse as "normal". What made captivity so vile was the absurdity of the experience. It was almost impossible to conceive of the ongoing nightmare, the hell.
If we are to regain our sanity, we must create new definitions and models of what it means to be human. The paradigm of European advanced humanity comes unglued once you study the history of Eurasia, Europe and the relationship with non-Europeans. Their alienation from self and nature are the root of their xenophobia. Their desecration of the environment and inability to peacefully co-exist has the world on the brink of nuclear annihilation.
We have to understand this behavior and the motivating mind-set behind the behavior, as pathological. The more we internalize the propaganda of white oppressors, the more insane we become. Sanity demands we look elsewhere for our models of humanity, compassion, justice and peace.
We must turn to our African ancestors as a model of humanity. To mimic our oppressor is to venture down a pathway to moral and psychological death and ultimately physical self-destruction.
Send your comments and suggestions about this article to: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Junious Ricardo Stanton
The Black World Today
Contributed by RHazard988
[This article calls to mind the book entitled: If GOD is White I Donít Wanna GO to Heaven.]
BETHUNE PUTS THE ISSUE ON TRIAL
BETHUNE COOKEMAN COLLEGE
Five trillion to $10 trillion dollars. That's the amount Richard America, a Georgetown University Professor estimates the U.S. government owes Black Americans for the slavery their ancestor's were forced to endure.
"Slavery produced benefits and enriched whites as a class at the expense of Blacks as a class," America said. "Reparations is not about making up for the past, but dealing with current problems."
But should the current government be forced to pay for a sin committed more than 100 years ago? Should whites be made to feel guilty for something they believe they had nothing to do with? Are Black America's current problems all tied to slavery? Should the president of the United States appoint a committee to study reparations for Blacks in America?
A 12-member jury heard these arguments during a mock trial April 24 and 25 held on the Bethune Cookman College campus in the Heyn Memorial Chapel, in Daytona Beach, Fl. There was no $10 trillion settlement, but the jury did rule that the president should appoint a commission and that Blacks should receive reparations.
Reparation is defined as making amends for a wrong or injury. Most of those among the 500 who attended the two-day trial agreed one of the biggest wrongs from America's past was the African transatlantic
Many Black activists want payment for the work their ancestors did as well as punitive damages for the abuse they suffered. They point to ancestors of Native American Indians as well as Japanese-Americans interned in camps during World War II who have been paid for the wrongs the government inflicted on them.
The call for reparations is an issue that sets most on edge, and particularly doesn't fly well with many whites.
"The minute you mention dollars, you might as well fly a kite because you are not going to get anywhere," said Charles Carter, one of the six white jurors hearing the case. The jury was also composed of six Blacks.
Sheila Flemming, a professor at B-CC, organized the event entitled:"Visions of The 21st Century: Conversations About Reparations For Blacks."
Flemming assembled an array of notable speakers from across the country to speak in favor of reparations including Congressman John Conyers D-Michigan, whose reparations bill has been languishing since 1989.
Conyers introduced a bill in the house that would create a commission to study reparations for Blacks. Since then and especially in recent years, he has not been able to garner enough support from his colleagues for the bill.
"I haven't been able to hold a hearing. (House Speaker) Newt Gingrich is my biggest stumbling Block," Conyers testified. He said many that are in opposition to having a commission study reparations, and believe they are being blamed for something they had nothing to do with.
"This is not a blame game. We are not looking for who did it or how evil were their motives. Payment is not going to come from who did it. The government assumes responsibility. We are not looking for someone's great, great grandfather who had slaves," said Conyers. "Slavery was not illegal. It was a government operation."
University of Maryland professor Ronald Walters argued that Blacks didn't benefit from their hard work and even after they were freed, the oppression didn't end.
"Poverty in the North developed because of slavery. Millions of people arrived in the North with nothing. The Black middle class was unable to stabilize," continued Walters adding that even in the l920s there were still many Blacks who were virtually slaves in parts of Georgia and other cotton state and suffering under Jim Crow laws.
"Beatings were common. People were forced to work and intimidated by violence up until l945," he said.
Walters said the impact of slavery is being felt today. Blacks die sooner than whites because of the legacy of poverty many were forced to live in. Black SAT and IQ scores are lower because - by law - slaves were not allowed to read or write.
Daytona Beach attorney Sandy Manjasek gave the closing arguments against reparations.
Manjasek's main point was that reparations should not be used to get to where "we need to go" as a society.
"Who should we blame for Slavery? White purchasers or Black merchants?" asked Manjasek pointing out that other Blacks sold Blacks to whites.
"We cannot judge slavery by today's standards. Don't allow reparations to be divisive, to incite or to take away motivation," she concluded.
Conyers commented on the call by some Black leaders for the president to apologize to American Blacks for slavery.
"We don't need a bill on an apology and reparations. My reparations bill calls for an apology," said Conyers referring to another bill saying the government should apologize to Blacks.
Conyers was part of President Clinton's delegation during his recent trip to Africa. He praised Clinton's efforts in to "de-mystify" the continent, but took issue with reparations not being on the agenda of Clinton's Initiative on Race.
"He (Clinton) doesn't understand you can't have a discussion on race and rule one item out of the discussion," Conyers said. "This fundamentally flaws a noble idea."
Conyers realizes he is facing an uphill battle. His task is to eventually convince all Americans to pay approximately 30 million Black Americans for something that was outlawed in l865. He said that even though slavery was outlawed on paper, Blacks still suffered through time and many are still suffering today.
Conversation About Reparations
The Conversation About Reparations was an event organized by the Social Sciences Division of Bethune-Cookman College April 24-25th. The event was a "mock trial" which included the general public, scholars and students of American history and society. It considered ideas on reparations from the historical, social, economic, and theological perspective. The constitutionality of African American reparations and its economic consequences were put under focus. The goal of the event was to inspire President Clinton to broaden the role of the "Initiative on Race" to include the consideration, and hence recommendations, regarding the issue of reparations for African Americans. Some of the questions for discussion were: What are the historical, theological, and constitutional issues implied in reparations for Black Americans? How can reparations for Blacks be fiscally computed and what are the consequences? Is the idea of reparations constitutional? Should reparations for Black Americans be studied by a national body? Should Black Americans receive reparations?
By James Harper
(Special to blackvoices.com)
Submitted by RHazard988
[I hope to see more and more "mock" trials in the future until JUSTICE IS SERVED FOR THE HEINOUS AND MERCILESS TRANSATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE! T.Y., Editor]
CONVICT LEASING IN ALABAMA
Wall Street Journal
July 16, 2001
From Alabama's Past, Capitalism Teamed
with Racism to Create Cruel Partnership
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- On March 30, 1908,Green Cottenham was arrested by the Shelby County, Ala., sheriff and charged with vagrancy. After three days in the county jail, the 22-year-old African-American was sentenced to an unspecified term of hard labor. The next day, he was handed over to a unit of U.S. Steel Corp. and put to work with hundreds of other convicts in the notorious Pratt Mines complex on the outskirts of Birmingham. Four months later, he was still at the coal mines when tuberculosis killed him.
Born two decades after the end of slavery in America, Green Cottenham died a slave in all but name. The facts are dutifully entered in the handwritten registry of prisoners in Shelby County and in other state and local government records.
In the early decades of the 20th century, tens of thousands of convicts -- most of them, like Mr. Cottenham, indigent black men -- were snared in a largely forgotten justice system rooted in racism and nurtured by economic expedience. Until nearly 1930, decades after most other Southern states had abolished similar programs, Alabama was providing convicts to businesses hungry for hands to work in farm fields, lumber camps, railroad construction gangs and, especially in later years, mines. For state and local officials, the incentive was money; many years, convict leasing was one of Alabama's largest sources of funding.
'Assault With a Stick'
Most of the convicts were charged with minor offenses or violations of "Black Code" statutes passed to reassert white control in the aftermath of the Civil War. Mr. Cottenham was one of more than 40 Shelby County men shipped to the Pratt Mines in the winter of 1908, nearly half of them serving time for jumping a freight train, according to the Shelby County jail log. George Roberson was sent on a conviction for "assault with a stick," the log says. Lou William was in for adultery. John Jones for gambling.
Subjected to squalid living conditions, poor medical treatment, scant food and frequent floggings, thousands died. Entries on a typical page from a 1918 state report on causes of death among leased convicts include: "Killed by Convict, Asphyxia from Explosion, Tuberculosis, Burned by Gas Explosion, Pneumonia, Shot by Foreman, Gangrenous Appendicitis, Paralysis." Mr. Cottenham was one of dozens of
convicts who died at the Pratt Mines complex in 1908.
This form of government and corporate forced labor ended in 1928 and slipped into the murk of history, discussed little outside the circles of sociologists and penal historians. But the story of Alabama's trade in human labor endures in minute detail in tens of thousands of pages of government records stored in archives, record rooms and courthouses across the state.
These documents chronicle another chapter in the history of corporate involvement in racial abuses of the last century. A $4.5 billion fund set up by German corporations, after lawsuits and intense diplomatic pressure from the U.S. and others, began making payments last month to the victims of Nazi slave-labor programs during the 1930s and 1940s. Japanese manufacturers have come under criticism for their alleged use of forced labor during the same period.
Swiss banks agreed in 1998 to a $1.25 billion settlement of claims related to the seizure of Jewish assets during the Holocaust.
Traditions of Segregation
In the U.S., many companies -- real-estate agents that helped maintain rigid housing segregation, insurers and other financial-services companies that red-lined minority areas as off-limits, employers of all stripes that discriminated in hiring -- helped maintain traditions of segregation for a century after the end of the Civil War. But in the U.S., recurrent calls for reparations to the descendants of pre-Civil War slaves have made little headway. And there has been scant debate over compensating victims of 20th century racial abuses involving businesses.
The biggest user of forced labor in Alabama at the turn of the century was Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Co., the U.S. Steel unit that owned the mine where Mr. Cottenham died. Dozens of other companies used convicts, too, many of them now defunct or absorbed into larger businesses. Executives at some of the corporate descendants say they shouldn't be asked to bear responsibility for the actions of executives long dead or the practices of businesses acquired decades ago.
U.S. Steel says it can find no evidence to suggest that the company ever abused or caused the deaths of convicts in Alabama. U.S. Steel spokesman Thomas R. Ferrall says that concerns voiced about convict leasing by Elbert H. Gary, the company's chairman at the time, helped set the stage for "knocking the props out from under" the system. "We think U.S. Steel proper was a positive player in this history ... was a force for good," Mr. Ferrall says.
A headstone sits at the edge of what nearby residents call the "U.S. Steel cemetery" on the outskirts of Birmingham, Ala. Hundreds of sunken graves lie behind the stone, located about 30 feet from a recently closed shaft into one of the company's Pratt Mines.
The company's early presence in Alabama is still evident a few miles from downtown Birmingham. There, on a hillside overgrown with brush, hundreds of sunken graves litter the ground in haphazard rows. A few plots bear stones. No other sign or path marks the place. Only a muddy scar in the earth -- the recently filled-in mouth of a spent coal mine -- suggests that this is the cemetery of the Pratt Mines complex.
"The convicts were buried out there," says Willie Clark, an 82-year-old retired coal miner. He grew up in a house that overlooked the cemetery and the sprawling mine operation that once surrounded it. "I heard my daddy talking about how they would beat the convicts with pick handles. If they didn't like them, they would kill them."
He and other older people living in the ramshackle "Pratt City" neighborhood surrounding the old mining site still call the graveyard the "U.S. Steel cemetery." There are no records of those buried on the hillside. Mr. Cottenham could be among them.
When Mr. Cottenham died in 1908, U.S. Steel was still new to convict leasing. But by then, the system was decades old and a well-oiled machine.
After the Civil War, most Southern states set up similar penal systems, involving tens of thousands of African-Americans. In those years, the Southern economy was in ruins. State officials had few resources, and county governments had even fewer. Leasing prisoners to private individuals or companies provided revenue and eliminated the need to build prisons. Forcing convicts to work as part of their punishment was entirely legal; the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1865, outlaws involuntary servitude -- except for "duly convicted" prisoners.
Convict leasing in other states never reached the scale of Alabama's program. By the turn of the century, most states had ended the practice or soon would because of opposition on humanitarian grounds and from organized labor. Convict leasing also wasn't well-suited to the still largely agrarian economies of most Southern states.
But in Alabama, industrialization was generating a ravenous appetite for the state's coal and iron ore. Production was booming, and unions were attempting to organize free miners. Convicts provided an ideal captive work force: cheap, usually docile, unable to organize and available when free laborers went on strike.
Under the convict-leasing system, government officials agreed with a company such as Tennessee Coal to provide a specific number of prisoners for labor. State officials signed contracts to supply companies with large blocks of men -- often hundreds at a time -- who had committed felonies. Companies entered into separate deals with county sheriffs to obtain thousands more prisoners who had been convicted of misdemeanors. Of the 67 counties in Alabama, 51 actively leased their convicts, according to one contemporary newspaper report. The companies built their own prisons, fed and clothed the convicts, and supplied guards as they saw fit.
In Barbour County, in the cotton country of southern Alabama, nearly 700 men were leased between June 1891 and November 1903, most for $6 a month, according to the leatherbound Convict Record still kept in the courthouse basement. Most were sent to mines operated by Tennessee Coal or Sloss-Sheffield Steel & Iron Co., another major industrial presence in Birmingham.
Sheriffs, deputies and some court officials derived most of their compensation from fees charged to convicts for each step in their own arrest, conviction and shipment to a private company. That gave sheriffs an incentive to arrest and obtain convictions of as many people as possible. They also had an incentive to feed the prisoners as little as possible, since they could pocket the difference between what the state paid them and what they spent to maintain the convicts while in their custody. Some convicts had enough money to pay the fees themselves and gain their freedom; the many who didn't were instead put to work. Company lease payments for the convicts' time at hard labor then were used to cover the fees.
In 1902 and 1903, the only period for which a complete prisoner ledger survives for Jefferson County, where Birmingham is located, local officials prosecuted more than 3,000 misdemeanor cases, the great majority of them yielding a convict to work in a Sloss-Sheffield mine.
One of those convicts was John Clarke, a black miner convicted of "gaming" on April 11, 1903. Unable to pay, he ended up at the Sloss-Sheffield mines. Working off the fine would take 10 days. Fees for the sheriff, the county clerk and even the witnesses who testified in the case required that Mr. Clarke serve an additional 104 days in the mines. Sloss-Sheffield acquired him at a rate of $9 a month, Jefferson County records show. One month and three days later, he was dead, crushed by "falling rock," according to the Alabama Board of Inspectors of Convicts, the agency that monitored the system.
Charge: 'Not Given'
In an 1898 convict-board report, the largest category in a table listing charges on which county convicts were imprisoned was "Not given." In a 1902 report, one man was in the mines for "disturbing females on railroad car." More than a dozen were incarcerated for "abusive and obscene language." Twenty convicts were digging coal for adultery, 29 for gambling. At any given time, the convict board's reports show dozens of prisoners at labor for riding a freight train without paying for a ticket. In 1914, convict-board records show, five black men were in prison for allegedly having sex with white women.
In 1895, Thomas Parke, the health officer for Jefferson County, investigated conditions at Sloss-Sheffield's Coalburg prison mine. There, Dr. Parke found 1,926 prisoners at toil. Hundreds had been charged with vagrancy, gambling, carrying a concealed weapon or other minor offenses, he reported. In many cases, no specific charges were recorded at all. Dr. Parke observed that many convicts had been arrested for minor infractions, fined $5 or $10 and, unable to pay, leased for 20 days to Sloss-Sheffield to cover the fine. Like Mr. Clarke, most of those prisoners then had another year or more tacked on to their sentences to cover fees owed to the sheriff, the clerk and the witnesses involved in prosecuting them.
"The largest portion of the prisoners are sentenced for slight offenses and sent to prison for want of money to pay the fines and costs. ... They are not criminals," Dr. Parke wrote in his formal report. He asked whether "a sovereign state can afford to send her citizens, for slight offenses, to a prison where, in the nature of things, a large number are condemned to die."
The company's explanation for the lethal conditions in its convict mines: "The negro dies faster," Sloss-Sheffield's president wrote in a letter to local officials a month later.
At Sloss-Sheffield's Flat Top mine a few miles north of Birmingham, convicts reached the mine by shuffling through a long, low-ceilinged shaft extending from inside the walls of their prison compound, according to a 1904 map of the site. A special committee of the Alabama Legislature studying the convict system in 1889 reported that "many convicts in the coal mines ... have not seen the sun shine for months." Another state inspector reported that at the Flat Top mine prison, which had 165 inmates, there were 137 "floggings" with a whip in one month of 1899.
In a 1904 report to acting Gov. Russell Cunningham, the state's top prison official, J.M. Carmichael, reported that Sloss-Sheffield had been "required to move its prison" at the Flat Top mine to a new location "because of the death rate at the prison formerly occupied by them." Mr. Carmichael added: "Hundreds and hundreds of persons are taken before the inferior courts of the country, tried and sentenced to hard labor for the county, who would never be arrested except for the matter of fees involved. This is a condition inexcusable, not to say shameful."
At the Pratt Mines complex where Mr. Cottenham later died, an observer for a special Alabama legislative committee in 1897 wrote a report describing 1,117 convicts, many "wholly unfit for the work," at labor in the shaft. The men worked standing in pools of putrid water. Gas from the miners' headlamps and smoke from blasts of dynamite and gun powder choked the mine.
The convict board's death registers show that in the final decade of the 19th century, large numbers of men died when diarrhea and dysentery periodically swept through the Pratt Mines. Citing inadequate food, beatings of miners and unsanitary conditions, state inspectors periodically issued reports criticizing the mine's operators, initially Pratt Coal & Coke Co. and later Tennessee Coal, which acquired Pratt Coal in the late 1800s. An 1889 report by Alabama legislators reported an "immense amount of whipping" of inmates at Pratt and other prison mines. An 1890 report from the convict inspectors board described "more sickness" at the Pratt Mines "than any other place."
Men were priced depending on their health and their ability to dig coal. Under state rules adopted in 1901, a "first class" prisoner had to cut and load into mine cars four tons of coal a day to avoid being whipped. The weakest inmates, labeled "fourth class" or "dead hands," were required to produce at least one ton a day. A first-class state convict cost Tennessee Coal $18.50 a month in 1897, according to a prison board financial report. A dead hand cost $9. Twenty years later, the monthly rates had risen to $93.12 per month for the strongest workers and $63.12 for the weakest.
As revenue from the lease system rose, companies took over nearly all the penal functions of the state. The Alabama legislature enacted elaborate statutes in the late 1800s regulating convict leases. The rules required companies to pay a fine of $150 a head for escapees. Company guards were empowered to shoot prisoners attempting to flee and, well into the 20th century, to strip disobedient convicts naked and whip them. State regulations mandated that a company "decently" inter any corpse not claimed by the prisoner's family at a mine cemetery.
"The demand for labor and fees has become so great that most of them now go to the mines where many of them are unfit for such labor; consequently it is not long before they pass from this earth," wrote Shirley Bragg, president of the Board of Inspectors of Convicts, in a September 1906 report to Alabama's governor. "Is it not the duty of the State to see that proper treatment is accorded these poor defenseless creatures, many of whom ought never have been arrested and tried at all?"
This is the world U.S. Steel entered in 1907 when it bought Tennessee Coal. It was a big deal, engineered by Wall Street banker J. Pierpont Morgan and requiring the personal approval of President Theodore Roosevelt. Tennessee Coal was a huge enterprise that had used slaves to operate its mines in Tennessee during the Civil War, according to a 1966 doctoral thesis on the company written by Justin Fuller, an Alabama historian.
U.S. Steel Chairman Elbert H. Gary was widely regarded at the time as a leader in progressive labor practices and business ethics. A former county judge after whom the steel city of Gary, Ind., was named, Mr. Gary told the author of a 1925 biography that he ordered an immediate end to the use of convicts as soon as he learned of the practice. "Think of that!" Mr. Gary says in "The Story of Steel," by Ida Tarbell. "I, an Abolitionist from childhood, at the head of a concern working negroes in a chain gang. ... I won't stand
Mr. Gary moved quickly to assert control over Tennessee Coal, installing his own president of the unit. In testimony during a 1913 investigation into alleged corruption in Alabama's convict-leasing bureaucracy, U.S. Steel executives, who weren't the subject of the investigation, said Mr. Gary had directed them to abandon convict leasing "as soon as possible." "Judge Gary said whether the hire of convicts was a good thing or a bad thing that he didn't care to be connected with the penal system of the State of Alabama," Walker Percy, then division counsel for Tennessee Coal, testified.
Still, according to state records and an internal company memo provided by U.S. Steel, the company continued to use more than 700 convicts already in the custody of Tennessee Coal under state and county contracts that weren't scheduled to expire for four more years. The company also entered into unspecified new convict-labor contracts after 1907, according to the company memo, written in 1913.
It isn't clear -- and U.S. Steel today says it doesn't know -- why the chairman's order to stop using forced labor in Alabama wasn't carried out promptly. Newspaper accounts and state records from the time indicate that Alabama officials were aware that Tennessee Coal was considering abandoning the practice, beginning immediately after the merger with U.S. Steel. In testimony from the 1913 inquiry, company executives cited the costs and logistics of recruiting and building housing for free miners as impediments to ending the use of convicts.
Whatever the reason, J.L. Walthall, the Shelby County sheriff who arrested Mr. Cottenham, and other law-enforcement officials continued regularly to ship convicts to the Pratt Mines. On Nov. 2, 1907, Sheriff Walthall received $373.50 from fees related to 65 cases, according to a county ledger. Adjusted for inflation, that figure would equal about $7,000 today.
Wave of Pneumonia
The following February, a wave of pneumonia and tuberculosis killed nine miners at the Pratt Mines. When Mr. Cottenham arrived from the Shelby County jail in April, Sheriff Walthall had already shipped more than 60 convicts to the Pratt Mines in the previous 12 months, according to his records, now stored in a county building a few blocks from the old stone courthouse in Columbiana. In March, six more convicts died of tuberculosis, including Mr. Roberson, the Shelby County man convicted of "assault with a stick."
Mr. Cottenham, the youngest of nine children born to a widowed former slave named Mary Cottenham, died Aug. 15, after a 13-day illness, according to his death certificate. Nine others were killed at the mine on Nov. 16. The cause listed in convict-board records was "asphyxiation." A newspaper report at the time said 50 black convicts had set fire to the mine and attempted to escape during the ensuing chaos. Flames and collapsing coal trapped scores of convicts as the fire incinerated timbers holding up the roof of the mine. Those who died were "roasted and suffocated," the paper reported.
By the end of the year -- the first full year of U.S. Steel control -- 58 convicts had died in the Pratt Mines.
Mortality rates gradually declined at the U.S. Steel operations as the company improved conditions. U.S. Steel continued to run a recently constructed, more sanitary prison for its No. 12 mine, where only convicts worked. State inspectors rated one U.S. Steel prison the "best in the state." In 1911, the number of deaths fell to 18.
But despite Judge Gary's pronouncements, nothing in the records indicates that U.S. Steel took any direct action to end its involvement in convict leasing. In the middle of 1911, for reasons that aren't specified in extant documents, Alabama officials began cutting the number of men convicted of state crimes that it supplied to U.S. Steel. Based on testimony in the 1913 investigation and a series of letters and memos transcribed into the record of that inquiry, U.S. Steel resisted giving up the prisoners under its control in the mines.
In a Nov. 24, 1911, letter to the convict board that was copied to Alabama Gov. Braxton Comer, George C. Crawford, president of Tennessee Coal, said the company's past treatment of convicts "reflects credit upon the humanity and intelligence" of those in charge of the prisoners. The company planned to end its use of convicts eventually, he wrote, but couldn't yet do so "without detriment to our operations." Mr. Crawford added that U.S. Steel's "chief inducement for the hiring of convicts was the certainty of a supply of coal for our manufacturing operations in the contingency of labor troubles."
In June, when the number of convicts under lease from the state fell below the 400 men Alabama was obligated to provide at any one time, Tennessee Coal Vice President F.H. Crockard wrote convict bureau President James Oakley to complain, "asking him for 30 or 40 more men," according to testimony during the 1913 inquiry. When the number of state prisoners at the company's disposal fell below 300 later that summer, the company's general mine superintendent, E.H. Coxe, paid a personal visit to Mr. Oakley to demand more convicts, according to the records.
As the end of Tennessee Coal's convict lease with the state approached in 1911, the company told Alabama officials that it wanted to begin negotiations to extend the contract for at least another year. The state responded that it intended to lease all the convicts to another mining company, ostensibly because it believed the other company would pay more for the prisoners.
"I wish to enter a very vigorous protest against this action, as it is manifestly unfair to us to take the men from us," wrote Mr. Coxe in a Sept. 25, 1911, letter to the official in charge of convicts. "We are paying the State a great big price for these convicts, and it is certainly a hardship on us to deplete our organization."
State officials were unswayed. On Jan. 1, 1912, state convicts held at the Pratt Mines were marched out under guard and turned over to overseers at Pratt Consolidated, an unrelated mining company, and immediately sent into that company's Banner mine. There, nine months earlier, a giant explosion and fire had killed nearly 130 convicts, all but a dozen of whom were black, according to the state's death records for that year.
The end of U.S. Steel's convict leases with the state in effect marked the beginning of the end of the company's involvement in the system. The records show that at least until late 1912, the company was using some county convicts. But after that year, no prisoners appear to have been leased by U.S. Steel. The Pratt Mines stayed open, worked by free miners.
Convict leasing, however, persisted. By 1910, as many as 5,000 state and county prisoners were under lease in Alabama at any given time. Thousands of African-American men sentenced to terms of less than a year were being cycled through the system. The threat of arrest and forced labor had become a fixture of black life in many rural areas of Alabama.
In Barbour County, that threat took the form of brothers William M. and Robert B. Teal. In 1911, when term-limit law forced William to give up his job as sheriff, Robert was elected to the job, and William became chief deputy. "The brothers just swapped places," according to the local newspaper.
Based on jail records the brothers kept, the Teals typically arrested fewer than 20 people a month. Then suddenly, every few months, dozens of minor offenders were rounded up over a few days, charged with vagrancy, alcohol violations or other minor offenses. Nearly all were sentenced to hard labor and shipped to a mine within 10 days.
One day in the summer of 1912, Edwin Collins was being held in the county jail on the charge of eavesdropping. Another black man, Josia Marcia, was in for allegedly having sexual relations with a white woman. Louis Denham was jailed for vagrancy. Housed with them were Ad Rumph, Henry Demas, Jackson Daniels and Peter Ford, four African-American men accused in the murder of a sharecropper named George Blue.
Whatever evidence was presented against the various defendants has been lost, along with any record of their trials or whether the men had access to attorneys. By fall, though, all had been convicted and sentenced to varying terms of hard labor. Each of the accused murderers received between 20 years and life. Mr. Collins, the eavesdropper, received six months of hard labor; Mr. Denham, the vagrant, got five months. No sentence was recorded for Mr. Marcia.
The African-American men in the Barbour County jail bore all the outward signs of grinding poverty. Will Miller, charged with a separate murder, was logged into the state's Descriptive Record as having "one good tooth on top," "shot through top of right shoulder," "badly burnt on back left leg."
Mr. Demas, 5-foot-9 and 150 pounds, bore scars across his frame -- the most prominent a six-inch gash stretching from above his left eye down the side of his face. Messrs. Collins and Denham apparently survived their terms; convict-board death records don't mention them. Mr. Miller died the following April in a Pratt Consolidated mine, "killed by convict," according to convict-board records. In November 1916, Mr. Rumph died of tuberculosis in a state prison hospital. Mr. Demas died the following month of pneumonia, at Pratt Consolidated's Banner mine. Mr. Daniels was killed July 27, 1917, while attempting to escape from
the Sloss-Sheffield mine at Flat Top.
By the 1920s, state officials, under growing humanitarian and union pressures, were moving to end the worst abuses of the convict-leasing system, eventually taking more direct control of the supervision and punishment of convicts, though the convicts continued to work for companies. Despite the state's attempted reforms, monthly memos written by Glenn Andrews, a state medical inspector, record scores of lashings for offenses such as cursing, failure to dig the daily quota of coal and "disobedience." In one entry, two black inmates, Ernest Hallman and R.B. Green, received five lashes each on March 12, 1925, for "disobedience." Others were put in chains and given up to a dozen lashes for "not working."
Reforms were often cursory, such as requiring that men be clothed during their lashings. The fee system remained in force. "Our jails are money-making machines," wrote state prison inspector W.H. Oates, in a 1922 report.
In 1924, a white convict named James Knox died shortly after he was leased to Sloss-Sheffield to work in the mines. The cause of death stated on his death certificate was suicide. Later, a series of newspaper reports alleged that a coroner had determined that Mr. Knox died of heart failure while being tortured by guards, who held him upside down in a barrel of water. The resulting public outrage finally pushed state officials to ban the use of leased convict labor entirely in 1928, roughly six decades after it began.
Tallying the total number of convicts leased to companies in Alabama during the 60 years the system prevailed is impossible. Record-keeping deteriorated in the system's last decade, as much larger numbers of men were arrested. State officials took a complete headcount of prisoners only once every four years, meaning tens of thousands of prisoners entered and left the forced-labor system without ever being added to the totals.
Records of the headcounts, compiled in the convict board's periodic reports, show that at least 40,000 state prisoners were leased to private enterprises, most of them between 1900 and 1922. The relatively few records the convict board kept on the county system show that more than 20,000 additional prisoners were leased from local jails between 1890 and 1914. In the years that followed, the number of arrests by sheriffs ballooned -- averaging 30,000 a year in 1924, 1925 and 1926 -- though state-prison-inspector records don't indicate how many of those prisoners were leased to companies. In the end, the total number of those sent into the mines over the 60-year span of the system probably far exceeded 100,000.
Tallying the Dead
The number of convicts who died while in the custody of private companies is more difficult to determine.The convict-board records show nearly 4,000 fatalities in the years leading up to 1918. Complete death records weren't maintained after that. Based on the numbers that do exist, annual mortality rates among the prisoners ranged from 3% to more than 25%.
The convict board's records show that Alabama's forced-labor system generated nearly $17 million for the state government alone -- or between $225 million and $285 million in today's dollars -- in the first two decades of the century. The total amount collected by counties isn't known. A Birmingham newspaper reported in 1908 that U.S. Steel's unit in Alabama paid Jefferson County about $60,000 ($1.1 million in today's dollars) for county convicts in that year, under a four-year contract between the company and local officials.
Sloss-Sheffield continued leasing convicts until at least 1926. In 1952, the company was merged into U.S. Pipe & Foundry, another Birmingham industrial group, which was in turn acquired in 1969 by Jim Walter Corp., a Tampa, Fla., industrial company. Now called Walter Industries, the company is best-known as a manufacturer of inexpensive prefabricated homes.
"Obviously, this was a dark chapter for U.S. business," says Kyle Parks, a spokesman for Walter Industries. "Certainly no company today could even conceive of this kind of practice."
Pratt Consolidated used convict labor until the abolition of the system. By then, the company had merged with Alabama By-Products Corp. The combined entity merged 60 years later with what is now Drummond Coal Co., a privately held coal and real-estate company based in Jasper, Ala., with mining operations in Alabama and South America. "I don't know how we could be tied back to something that happened in the early part of the century," says Drummond spokesman Mike Tracy. "Drummond wasn't even founded then."
U.S. Steel executives say that whatever happened at the company's Alabama mines long ago, it would be impossible to appropriately assign responsibility for any corporation's actions in so remote an era. "Is it fair in fact to punish people who are living today, who have certain assets they might have inherited from others, or corporate assets that have been passed on?" says Richard F. Lerach, U.S. Steel's assistant general counsel. "You can get to a situation where there is such a passage of time that it simply doesn't make sense and is not fair."
The company says it knows almost nothing about the "U.S. Steel cemetery" near where Willie Clark, the retired miner, grew up. U.S. Steel still owns the burial ground, and it obtained a cemetery property-tax exemption on the site in 1997. But officials say they are unable to locate records of burials there or of the company prison that once stood nearby. The only reference to the graveyard in surviving corporate documents, they say, is a map of the property marked with the notation "Negro Cemetery." Company officials theorize that the graveyard was an informal burial area used by African-American families living nearby, with no formal connection to U.S. Steel.
"Are there convicts on that site? Possibly, quite possibly," says Mr. Ferrall, the company spokesman. "But I am unable to tell you that there are."
Over the decades, Birmingham spread to surround the site: low-rent apartments on one side, shabby storefronts on another, an industrial site, a city park. In 1994, industrial archaeologist Jack Bergstresser stumbled across the cemetery while conducting a survey for the federal government to map the remains of nearby coke ovens, mine shafts and railroad lines.
Mr. Clark says that as a boy, he and other youngsters played among the unmarked graves, picking blackberries from the thorny vines that grew wild between the plots. Burials were rare by then. The older graves had begun to collapse, he says, exposing jumbles of human bones.
Though in his ninth decade, Mr. Clark, more than 6 feet tall, can still walk to the site from his home nearby and point out where the old mine shafts reached the surface and where dozens of company houses once stood.
"What can you do about it now?" he says, stepping gingerly through the trees and undergrowth. "But the company ... ought to clean that land up, or turn it back over to the city or somebody else who can make some use of it, take care of it."
By Douglas A. Blackmon
Submitted by email@example.com
[It would appear that with all the time and money Whites invest in the penal system today for Black imprisonment and the construction of prisons nationwide, that they are all about the above history repeating itself. T.Y., Editor]
Free The Mind... Free The People... Free The Land...
S. E. Regional Representative
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