Reparations Resource Guide
the past will remain horrible for exactly as long as we refuse to assess it honestly.”'' —James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son
Background: The Case for Reparations
Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.”
—Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Case for Reparations
—Carl Redwood, Jr. at the 2020 Pittsburgh Racial Justice Summit
We cannot build a human rights city on the foundations of atrocities committed in the establishment of this nation. Advancing remedies for past human rights atrocities and their lasting impacts is a process that will require work by everyone in our society to become informed and to foster dialogues that can generate understanding, empathy, and commitment to collective healing. This resource page aims to support those working to advance human rights in our communities by addressing this important challenge.
- Early Reparations Advocacy of Callie House: House was co-founder of the National Ex-Slave Mutual Relief, Bounty and Pension Association in 1898 and author of a widely circulated pamphlet Freedmen’s Pension Bill: A Plea for American Freedmen (1891).
- "The Case for Reparations" Ta-Nehisi Coates The Atlantic, June 2014.
- Dr. Raymond Winbush, Belinda's Petition: Excellent primer on reparations.
- The Debt: What America Owes Blacks by Randall Robinson.
- "Making Good on the Broken Promise of Reparationsby Katherine Franke, New York Review of books
- “The Rise of the Reparations Movement” Martha Biondi, Radical History Review 87:5-18. (2003)
- WHYY: The Reparations Debate: Should the descendants of slaves be paid reparations by the federal government? Proponents of this idea say that the effects of slavery are still relevant today, and that the American government should provide some form of additional support to offset these disadvantages. Opponents either balk at the idea that slavery still affects African-American communities, or see the concept as an impractical political non-starter. The Democratic candidates for president are weighing in, many of whom have expressed interest in considering the idea. Today on the show, we’ll talk about reparations and the politics around them with Princeton assistant professor of African American studies KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR, and ADOLPH REED Jr., professor of political science and economics at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Racial Equity Tools for Community Reparations-This site provides links related to reparations and how they might be applied to remedy the consequences of enslavement and the subsequent disadvantages that have accumulated over time to people of color as a result of U.S. government policies.
Different groups are putting forward ideas about the difficult question of how our society might carry out a commitment to repairing the harms of past human rights violations. Of course, this is a difficult task that will require many conversations, public education and consciousness raising, and dedicated leadership.
The following demands are included in the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) Preliminary 10 Point Reparations Program. This document is meant for Review, Revision and Adoption as a Platform to Guide the Struggle for Reparations for People of African Descent in the United States
- A Formal Apology and Establishment of a MAAFA/African Holocaust Institute
- The Right of Repatriation and Creation of an African Knowledge Program
- The Right to Land for Social and Economic Development
- Funds for Cooperative Enterprises and Socially Responsible Entrepreneurial Development
- Resources for the Health, Wellness and Healing of Black Families and Communities
- Education for Community Development and Empowerment
- Affordable Housing for Healthy Black Communities and Wealth Generation
- Strengthening Black America’s Information and Communications Infrastructure
- Preserving Black Sacred Sites and Monuments
- Repairing the Damages of the “Criminal Injustice System”
- In addition to these demands made by the NAARC, the Peoples Campaign for Reparations and Black Self-Determination emphasizes the following demands:
- The right to self-determination
- The release of political prisoners.
Other groups have also been engaged in this work, including:
- National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N'COBRA) N’COBRA was founded September 26, 1987, for the purpose of spreading information and supporting of the long-term goal of gaining reparations for African Americans. Founders of N’COBRA include National Conference of Black Lawyers, The New Afrikan Peoples Organization, and the Republic of New Afrika. After its founding the organization grew and now has chapters in various parts of the world including Africa, Europe, Central America, South America, and the United States.
- The Movement for Black Lives-Which offers the following demands for reparations for past and continuing harms. These include education, guaranteed livable income, reparations for "wealth extracted from our communities through environmental racism, slavery, food apartheid, housing discrimination and racialized capitalism," among other steps.
- The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent has also issued a formal report to the United States Government stressed international expectations that the U.S. Government to take steps towards reparations.
- "There is a profound need to acknowledge that the transatlantic trade in Africans, enslavement, colonization and colonialism were a crime against humanity and are among the major sources and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, Afrophobia, xenophobia and related intolerance. Past injustices and crimes against African Americans need to be addressed with reparatory justice" (Par. 91) Report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent - visit to United States of America, 19-29 January 2016
- The Working Group Report referenced the reparations calls of the Caribbean Community, and specifically mentioned (Par. 94):
- Formal apology
- Health initiatives
- Educational opportunities
- An African knowledge programme
- Psychological rehabilitation
- Technology transfer and financial support
- Debt cancellation
International Institutions and Resources
- An Appeal to the World (1947). On October 23, 1947 W.E.B. DuBois, on behalf of the NAACP, presented this petition drafted by a group of historians and legal scholars to the United Nations. The petition described the major grievances of African Americans against the United States including their origins in the U.S. Constitution. The petition is considered one of the first organized efforts to focus on human rights issues within the United States.
- We Charge Genocide: The Historic Petition to the United Nations for Relief From a Crime of The United States Government Against the Negro People (1951)
- World Conference Against Racism, Durban Declaration (2001)
- Caricom Reparations Commission (CRC)-In 2013 Caribbean Heads of Governments established the Caricom Reparations Commission (CRC) with a mandate to prepare the case for reparatory justice for the region’s indigenous and African descendant communities who are the victims of Crimes against Humanity (CAH) in the forms of genocide, slavery, slave trading, and racial apartheid.
- International Network of Scholars and Activists for Afrikan Reparations
- National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC)-NAARC’s Preliminary 10 Point Reparations Program-2015--A Document for Review, Revision and Adoption as a Platform to Guide the Struggle for Reparations for People of African Descent in the U.S.
- H.R.40 - Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act
Peoples Campaign for Reparations and Black Self-Determination- This Pittsburgh-based initiative is leading a series of community forums on this theme to help organize and build momentum for reparations for Black residents of Pittsburgh. The Campaign is seeking an official apology, among other demands such as land and financial resources to support community development and racial equity. It is working to build alliances among diverse groups in the city to build political will to address historical harms in order to realize justice and equity for Pittsburgh's Black community.
Other Resources and Links
- Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity
- The Long Fight for Slavery Reparations is Slowly Being Won The Guardian, Oct. 6, 2020.
- Symposium: Using World History to Inform Work for Reparations Journal of World-Systems Research Summer/Fall 2020.
- International Network of Scholars and Activists for Afrikan Reparations