Update on reparations at Southwest College

Ph.D. | 12/8/2010, 5 p.m.

Every year since 2002 the community-based group, Reparations United Front, RUF, has presented a comprehensive report to Southern California residents regarding the state of the reparations movement. This year that report will be presented on Saturday, from 11 am to 4 p.m., at Los Angeles Southwest College in Lecture Hall LL 103. The presentation is in conjunction with a class assignment for Pol Sci 101, and it is both free and open to the general public.

The report will include a reparations debate, a look at the international reparations movement, a RUF awards ceremony for its annual community-best recipient, and commentary on the church and reparations.

Although the recent Black farmers' settlement was indeed a reparations issue, as is the continuing machinations over legitimizing the Black Indians (Seminoles, Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw and others) as a distinctive nation which deserves its own recognition and respect beyond affiliation with the five civilized tribes, the national reparations movement has been very, very quiet since the election of President Barack Obama and the loss of the Greenwood, Okla., vs. State of Okla. court case (Alexander v. Oklahoma).

The latter, which occurred in May 2005, had been seen as the Brown vs. Board of the reparations movement, and the rejection of the writ of certiorari by the U.S. Supreme Court (refusal to hear the case), was devastating to advocates of African American reparations in the U.S. Harambee Radio, a very popular online broadcast vehicle, in November did a six-hour precedent-setting series on "The Status of the Reparations Movement in America by its Leaders," which was a sequential bundle of interviews and on-air discussions about the history, the achievements, the failures and the future of the movement, primarily in the U.S. Interested listeners can contact Harambee at harambeeradio@yahoo.com. You can purchase a copy of the series from the station or, as I understand it, you may be able to pick one up at the RUF symposium on Saturday.

The production is priceless, and included Senghor Baye, the currently elected president-general of Marcus Garvey's UNIA-ACL; Raymond Winbush, editor of "Should America Pay?," one of the best modern books on the reparations issue; Dr. Julius Garvey, one of Marcus Garvey's two surviving sons, and Queen Mother Dorothy Lewis of N'COBRA (National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America), among others.

H.R. 40, Congressman John Conyers' consistently re-introduced legislation to fund a national study in order to determine whether reparations are really due to African Americans because of the non-payment of slave labor, the sins of Jim Crowism and other discriminatory ills, will no doubt be proposed one more time during the 112th session of Congress. However, since Congressman Conyers will certainly not be chair any longer of the House Judiciary Committee, the legislation, once again, will be buried in the minutiae of a subcommittee and never make it to a full House vote. Symbolically, it will remain important but, practically, it will have little impact on moving the reparations movement any further than where it already is in this country.