Slavery Reparations Gaining Momentum

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Advocates who say black Americans should be compensated for slavery and its Jim Crow aftermath are quietly chalking up victories and gaining momentum.

Fueled by the work of scholars and lawyers, their campaign has morphed in recent years from a fringe-group rallying cry into sophisticated, mainstream movement. Most recently, a pair of churches apologized for their part in the slave trade, and one is studying ways to repay black church members.

The overall issue is hardly settled, even among black Americans: Some say that focusing on slavery shouldn't be a top priority or that it doesn't make sense to compensate people generations after a historical wrong.

Yet reparations efforts have led a number of cities and states to approve measures that force businesses to publicize their historical ties to slavery. Several reparations court cases are in progress, and international human rights officials are increasingly spotlighting the issue.

"This matter is growing in significance rather than declining," said Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor and a leading reparations activist. "It has more vigor and vitality in the 21st century than it's had in the history of the reparations movement."

The most recent victories for reparations advocates came in June, when the Moravian Church and the Episcopal Church both apologized for owning slaves and promised to battle current racism. The Episcopalians also launched a national, yearslong probe into church slavery links and into whether the church should compensate black members. A white church member, Katrina Browne, also screened a documentary focusing on white culpability at the denomination's national assembly.





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Vernon Clayson - 7/13/2006

Where does this insanity stop? What's next, reparations for the Chinese who built the railroads and were little more than slaves themselves? Will the reparations be in amounts equal to what slaves might have been paid for their labor at that time? Working men made pennies a day, let's say a white farmhand made 25 cents a day, will it satisfy you bloodsuckers if the descendant to the 4th generation be given 25 cents a day for, say, a year or two? That would be except for Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, they don't it.


Leroy John Pletten - 7/12/2006

Reparations are warranted when constitutional rights have been violated. Abolitionists provided significant evidence that slavery was unconstitutional. For background, see http://medicolegal.tripod.com/slaveryillegal.htm