Support Grows for a National Commission on Reparatory Justice
Several Black Organizations Urge Obama to act by Executive Order
New York, July 1, 2015…Momentum continues to build in support of the recent call to President Barack Obama to create, by executive order, a “national commission on reparatory justice” in the wake of the massacre of innocent Black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.
The call was contained in a June 24th letter to the president from the National African-American Reparations Commission (NAARC), a group of prominent Black leaders in the legal, academic, health and faith-based communities across the country.
To date, 10 national African-American organizations (see list below) representing thousands of members, have endorsed the NAARC request for Obama to establish a commission on reparatory justice that will address white supremacy “in all of its individual, institutional and structural manifestations.”
The letter describes white supremacy and racism as “a deadly disease” that remains deeply embedded in the American psyche and in the social, economic and political fabric of US society.
“Reparations are a form of historical correction and justice not only for the descendants of those enslaved, but for the enslavers as well,” said Prof. Dr. Ray Winbush, a reparations scholar based at Morgan State University in Baltimore and a member of the NAARC.
The NAARC has recommended that the commission be named in honor of esteemed historian and scholar Dr. John Hope Franklin who had chaired President Bill Clinton’s Commission on Race some 22 years ago. “In honor of Dr. Franklin’s 100th birthday, we call upon you to have the vision to create a commission on reparatory justice in his name. This is only fitting as it also offers an opportunity to complete the unfinished work of President Clinton’s Commission on Race”, states the letter.
Among his many distinctions, Franklin was President of Phi Beta Kappa and the first African-American president of Atlanta University. Before he died in 2009, he wrote: “Most living Americans do have a connection with slavery. They have inherited the preferential advantage, if they are white, or the loathsome disadvantage, if they are black and those positions are virtually as alive today as they were in the 19th Century.”
Dr. Ron Daniels, convener of the NAARC and President of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW), said that from Ferguson to Baltimore to Charleston, this most recent period has revealed that white supremacy is alive and well in the United States. “Despite these realities, polls and studies indicate that a substantial number of white Americans fail to see or are in denial about the stubborn persistence of racism and its effects on Black people.”
Kamm Howard, a leader of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (NCOBRA) and a member of the NAARC sees the push for the executive order as a means to re-frame the national discussion of reparatory justice around the international standards of full repair.
“This includes halting many discriminatory practices, efforts aimed at restoring and making whole our peoplehood, a variety of compensatory polices, dignity enhancing projects, programs and policies as well as various modalities that initiate healing from post-traumatic slavery syndrome and its many manifestations,” said Howard.
NCOBRA recently held a successful national convention in Milwaukee that involved a high percentage of young racial and social justice activists.
The national organizations endorsing the NAARC letter are:
Association of Black Psychologists
Black Psychiatrists of America
National Association of Black Social Workers
International Black Women’s Congress
Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
National Black United Front
All Healers Mental Health Network
Community Healing Network
A Black Educators Network
National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice.
**Organizations interested in supporting the call to President Obama can contact the NAARC by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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