NBUF Annual Conference: Speakers See Reparations Movement Growing With UK, France And Netherlands Lawsuit
The Reparations Movement is once again becoming part of a broader growing conversation that now includes action plans such as the lawsuit against the United Kingdom, France and Holland prominent intellectuals and activist said at the National Black United Front's (NBUF) 35th annual convention.
This year's gathering was in Washington D.C. at Howard University between July 10th and July 12th.
With a jam packed convention calendar the convention opened with a rousing discussion on reparations and gentrification, followed the next day by an inspiring presentation - “African History: A Tool for Liberation”, delivered by Dr. Leonard Jeffries, who was recently named the International Director of the Organization of African American Unity.
The 2014 NBUF conference opened with a stirring discussion entitled “Gentrification & Discrimination in Housing and Education: Why we need Reparations”. The four panelists who provided their analysis around the critical question of reparations and gentrification were; Omowale Clay, of the December 12th Movement, Eugene Puryear, candidate for the At-Large seat with the Council of the District of Columbia and author of Shackled and Chained: Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America, Reverend Leah Daughtry, Pastor at the House of the Lord Church in Washington D. C and Dr. Ray Winbush, Director of the Institute of Urban Research at Morgan State University and author of “Should America Pay: Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations.”
NBUF National Chairman Kofi Taharka told The Black Star News the gentrification issue is felt across the country. “Gentrification is a very real tangible thing that we see happening but it is part of a broader disenfranchisement and oppression of African people – historically and contemporary,” said Mr. Taharka.
Mr. Clay opened the discussion with his analysis on his observations of gentrification through the years while providing some insight to issue in New York City. Mr. Clay explains, “In New York City, we know Bloomberg was the devastation of us – worse than Rudolf Giuliani – because Bloomberg understood finance and he systematically let the depreciation and destruction of housing go on that was affordable to our people,” he said, of former mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Although the current mayor, Bill de Blasio, is putting money into public housing, Mr. Clay asserted: “The fundamental thing that is happening is that we’re losing where we live…everyday.” Mr. Clay also talked about the recent $40 million settlement in the Central Park Five (CP5) case – where five young Black men were accused and imprisoned for the crime of raping a White woman in 1989 that they did not commit. “Those brothers in the Central Park Five did get some form of reparations. After 25 years – there was some reparations for them - $40 million for the five of them--it’s a victory for us, a small victory,” said Mr. Clay.
He connected the dots between being arrested, falsely imprisoned and forced into labor for 25 years to being captured and held as a slave for unpaid labor, Mr. Clay said: “This is a case that speaks to reparations and what it means to us.”
Eugene Puryear spoke about the tremendous opportunity raised by the reparations issue. He went on to attack activism where critical issues are addressed separately without the necessary linkages that would otherwise show the significance of these issues demonstrated by their connection to one another. “If we don’t rally ourselves around this movement and create an environment where anyone who raises these issues - cannot be torn down – then we will not see reparations,” explained Mr. Puryear.
Reverend Daughtry, who served as the CEO of the 2008 Democratic National Convention presented an analysis that looked at the political component to the reparations issue. She discussed the importance of having a political strategy that engages grassroots activism with electoral politics. “We have tremendous political power that we don’t exercise. And if we’re talking about reparations, if we’re talking about getting what we’re owed, getting our fair share – it becomes a political challenge,” Rev. Daughtry continued, “So what do we do? If we want reparations, if we want what is owed to us, what is due to us, if we believe that we are worth it, this cannot be just about rallies and demonstrations…then we have to do the work to make that come true. That means an inside strategy and an outside strategy. Yes, we need everybody to be in the streets, on the radio, raising consciousness, keeping the pressure on but we need people in positions of power…in the statehouse, in the White House and in the Congress who can pass the laws. Reparations is not going to happen without a change in legislation.”
Dr. Winbush started by talking about the widespread fear amongst Blacks and Whites when discussing racism in America. “We use different phrases when it comes to racism. We use Driving While Black, Flying While Black, Sleeping while Black, the educational gap, health disparities and even Living while Black.” Dr. Winbush continued, “Gentrification is simply another word for White supremacy, like driving while Black, like flying while Black, like health disparities. Columbus gentrified Jamaica. The U.S. government gentrified Texas which a part of Mexico,” explained Dr. Winbush.
He went on to discuss the reparations movement in the Caribbean, headed by CARICOM, the umbrella organization of 15 Caribbean nations, and their reparations lawsuit. “Everybody is talking about reparations and I’m not talking about government officials or the intelligentsia – I’m talking about everybody is excited around the issue of reparations. This issue has got to be on our lips as well,” explained Dr. Winbush. “No matter where you go, people are talking about reparations, in Australia, the Aborigines are talking about reparations. In France, in England -- they’re talking about reparations and we have to do the same thing here in the United States.”
Charles Brooks is the Publisher of The Blackboard Blog. Go to www.charles-brooks.com. Contact Mr. Brooks at: firstname.lastname@example.org, www.Facebook.com/TheBlackboardBlog, and www.Twitter.com/@_charlesbrooks