This article was originally published August 15, 1992

In the midst of the 500th anni­versary of the so-called “discovery of America,” there's a growing international movement in the Af­rican and African-American communities calling for reparation payments to African people for the historical injustices wrought on them and for their enslave­ment in the United States.

In Africa, a small group of dip­lomats, academics, and intellectu­als forming the nucleus to an in­ternational campaign have been drumming up support calling for America to pay various African countries (and Nigeria in particu­lar) for enslaving their people.

Elombe Brath, a leading New York Black activist and historian, said this issue has been around for several years but has picked up renewed momentum when African officials raised the issue last year.

One suggestion for reparations would be to cancel all financial debts owed the United States by African and Caribbean nations, a debt ranging in the billions of dollars.

“The U.S. government owes Africa money for robbing the continent of its people and enslaving them,” said Brath, “and we're going to make sure they pay for what they've done.”

Brath and other Black leaders are suggesting that African-Americans support the ”reparations movement” and its legislation.

There are several historical precedents for reparations payments from one nation or people to another.

Indeed, this country has a his­tory of repaying races of people for historical ills, dating back to 1971 when the American government paid $1 billion plus 44 million acres of land to Alaska natives for land settlements that were wrongly taken away from them by the U.S. government in the 1800s and before.

More recently in 1990, the U.S. government paid Japanese­ Americans $1.2 billion, or $20,000 for each person placed in the American concentration camps during World War II.

That same year, Austria paid $25 million to Holocaust survivors who had made claims against that country.

Even in 1952, Germany paid $822 million to Holocaust survi­vors in a German-Jewish settle­ment reached shortly after World War II.

The point is that precedents have been set for repaying par­ticular ethnic groups for ills done to them. Between 1980 and 1986, the U.S. paid over $261.3 million to five different Native American tribes for the atrocity and genocide done them since the 1936 U.S.-Indian Treaty.

In 1980 the American government paid $105 million to the Klamaths of Oregon. In 1985, the government paid $105 mil­lion to the Sioux of South Da­kota, $12.3 million to the Semi­noles of Florida; $31 million to the Chippewas of Wisconsin, and in 1986, $32 million to the Otta­was of Michigan.

Yet, the United States gov­ernment has paid nothing (re­peat nothing!) to African people for enslaving and brutalizing them for over three hundred years.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *