SCOTUS: Doctoral Candidate Seeks "Protected" Status for Descendants of Enslaved Africans

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Challenges the 11th Amendment in a Supreme Court brief.

Black doctoral candidate Fenyan Ajamau Stewart is making history by being a pro se litigant who is requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court hear a North Carolina case that inquires about the constitutionality of contemporary interpretations of the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1871.

The Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1871 were advanced by Black leaders and the Radical Republicans after the U.S. Civil War and during Reconstruction. Moreover, the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1871 were originally designed to protect the sovereign immunity of those enslaved Africans and their descendants, especially given the fact that since its ratification on February 7, 1795, the 11th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution deals with one’s sovereign immunity.

However, in a brief filed last Tuesday titled FENYANG AJAMU STEWART v. THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA SYSTEM ET AL., Stewart argues that the Federal District Court erred or committed fraud by granting the state of North Carolina a motion to dismiss based on the 11th Amendment sovereign immunity clause. Stewart’s original case accused the state of North Carolina of racial discrimination in one of its institutions of higher learning where he was completing a doctoral program in Engineering. "I am simply asking legal professionals and other friends of the court to join this suit in the next 25 days by filing an amicus brief or friends of the court,” Stewart says.

He notes that one of his aims for filing the brief in the Supreme Court was to ensure that Blacks have meaningful access to the courts without their cases being frivolously dismissed by racist federal agencies, biased judiciary administrators, and plausibility standards that do not protect the unalienable rights of descendants of those illegally labeled as slaves, chattel, and property. It has been almost 40 years since the U.S. Supreme Court has heard a pro se litigant inside of its halls. However, for Stewart, the points that he raises in his brief are too important not to be heard by the highest court of the land.

He says: “Black Americans, African Americans and members of the African race who are descendents of those captured in what is called the Slave Trade need special treatment similarly to that of the Native Americans. Only the Supreme Court of America can grant that. I pray that all organizations that understand what’s at stake publicly join me in this suit.” Stewart adds: “African Americans need the United States Supreme Court to do an inquiry similar to what was done by the court in 1832 in a case entitled Worcester v. Georgia. I am pleading to the court to do this and to similarly situate African Americans as they have done and protected other groups in the United States."

Stewart has accredited this particular part of his petition to the legal and scholarly work of Black activist Reggie Mabry and New York City Council candidate Patrick Delices. “After hearing about their work, I felt obligated to mention their influence on my theories especially regarding the importance of an inquiry," Stewart says of Delices and Mabry.

Stewart later invited Dr. Jahi Issa to join the team for his cutting edge intellectual work concerning the unalienable rights of enslaved Africans and their descendants which are neglected and erred by the legal system of the United States. The legal and scholarly analysis of Mabry, Issa, and Delices serves as the central legal position of an enduring historical range which is based on the unfinished influential work of the late Dr. John Henrik Clarke, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Africana & Puerto Rican/Latino Studies at Hunter College.

Dr. Clarke was a mentor to Mabry, Issa, and Delices who was an adjunct professor at Hunter. It must be recalled that the leading reparations case, DEADRIA FARMER-PAELLMANN v. FLEETBOSTON FINANCIAL CORPORATION, AETNA INC., CSX, and many other reparation cases did not prevail in U.S. federal court. Thus, descendants of enslaved Africans have no increased remedy and protected status. Stewart's case is highlighted with a call for proper inquiry of those illegally labeled "slaves" and then "freemen" and "free women." Mabry, Issa, and Delices address the fact that Worcester v. Georgia did not include Africans in its inquiry as it did with Native Americans. They also argue that in 1841, the United States v. Schooner Amistad, the so-called "Amistad Case" did not apply to Africans who were captured illegally --kidnapped-- whether they were called "slaves" or "freemen" or "free women" because of no proper inquiry.

In 1857, even the Dred Scott Case did not do a full and proper inquiry regarding Africans and as a result, this case did irreparable harm to African people in the United States. Before the U.S. Civil War, and since then, no court in this nation has engaged in an inquiry that would provide enslaved Africans and their descendants with protected status similarly situated with that of Native Americans where a proper inquiry has taken place.

The various U.S. Civil Rights cases that have an impact on the laws of this nation did absolutely nothing to cure the irreparable harm done to enslaved Africans and their descendants. The remedies afforded from these cases sought only to give the harmed descendants of enslaved Africans “rights” without protected status. These “rights” without protected status never cured and protected descendants of enslaved Africans from irreparable harm; even though, these “rights” now benefit white women, the LGBTQ community, and immigrants.

Without a proper inquiry, the plausibility standards of cases arising from sovereign immunity of federal and state laws do not apply to discrimination cases where descendents of enslaved Africans are concerned. Stewart’s case is scheduled to be reviewed within 30 days or by the end of June. Clerks of the Justices will help to decide on whether to accept the case, which will require four affirmative votes. If Stewart’s case is not accepted, the ruling of the Federal District Circuit will stand as the ultimate decision on this case.

Those interested in filing a brief can contact Reginald A. Mabry at

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