Published On: Tue, Apr 7th, 2015

Major US Black group to host reparations summit

slavery-chainsThe Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW), a leading research, policy and advocacy group with offices in New York and Baltimore, says it is holding an International Reparations Summit at various sites across New York City from April 9-12.

On Friday, IBW announced that speakers will include Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies and chair of the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) Reparations Commission; US civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Professor Charles Ogeltree of Harvard University; and Mireille Fanon Mendes France, President of the Frantz Fanon Foundation and Chair of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African descent and daughter of Frantz Fanon, the Black liberation theoretician and psychiatrist from Martinique.

During the summit, US congressman John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, the most senior member of the US Congress and the dean of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), will be honored for authoring a bill, HR 40, the “Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act” and for his 50 years of service in the US House of Representatives.

“We are delighted that the Institute of the Black World can be a clearinghouse for ideas and strategies on how to pursue reparations for historical crimes and injustices against people of African descent in the US and across the Americas,” said Dr. Ron Daniels, the Institute’s president. “The courageous decision by nations in the Caribbean to demand reparations from the former European colonialists for Native Genocide and African enslavement and the formation of a CARICOM Reparations Commission is re-energizing the Reparations Movement in the US and throughout the Pan African world.”

IBW said scores of reparations advocates, pan-Africanists and social justice activists from across the US, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean will take part in the New York summit.

It said leaders of national reparations commissions, committees and task forces from 11 CARICOM nations will interface with leaders of the recently-formed European Reparations Commission and with members of the National African-American Reparations Commission (NAARC), which will be formally launched during the conference.

The NAARC will comprise of some of the leading scholars, activists, attorneys, economists and historians in Black America.

In the months ahead, IBW said the NAARC will hold a series of town hall meetings across the country designed to solicit ideas from African-American communities on what should constitute a comprehensive program that advocates for reparations for the historical crimes of slavery and segregation.

“The main purpose of the international summit is to advance the public discussion and debate around reparations issues and to provide a platform for advocates from around the world to dialogue, learn from each other, strategize collectively, support and reinforce each other’s campaigns, build bridges across geographical and linguistic barriers and co-ordinate action plans,” said Don Rojas, IBW’s Vincentian-born director of communications and former press secretary for slain Grenada revolutionary leader and prime minister Maurice Bishop.

The conference will be held in three of New York City’s five boroughs—Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, beginning at the historic Mother AME Zion Church in Harlem, the oldest black church in New York State and a center for the Underground Railroad back in the 19th Century.

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