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August 10th, 2016

Should We Get More than Just an Apology?

William Reed
If they want “real justice” Black Americans need to remind the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to: either led, follow or get out of the way on the issue of an American apology for slavery and reparations for Blacks.  Do you remember when Congressional Black Caucus put the squash on the resolution that called on the U.S. to apologize for slavery saying that they were “concerned about a disclaimer that that “nothing in this resolution authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States”?

In 2008, the United States Senate passed a resolution calling on the U.S. to apologize for centuries of enslavement and segregation.  The Senate’s Resolution passed on a voice vote in the House of Representatives but has never been adopted because 110th Congress’ CBC Chair Barbara Lee played the Race Card saying that the Senate had attached a stipulation that was “an attempt to stave off reparations claims from the descendants of slaves” and that group “would “study the matter.”

While Black groups seek “justice” in the nation’s streets, actually it’s the CBC that’s hindering processes toward Blacks garnering proper compensation for heinous crimes perpetuated against them.   It’s time that the CBC group’s current chair Congressman G.K. Butterfield lit a fire on getting the matter studied and passed toward Blacks getting what’s legitimated owed them.  Blacks’ focus should be the crimes against humanity occurred in America for centuries.   Blacks in the general public as well as those in the 114th Black Caucus are more interested in “coming together” with Whites than collecting compensation that yields descendants of slaves between $5.9 trillion and $14.2 trillion.  The “Apology” was sponsored by Representative Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), a White Jew who represents a majority-Black Memphis District. Over past years, Cohen has tried unsuccessfully to join the CBC.  To let the average American tell it: they have questions about “who should pay reparations and who should receive them.”  The CBC is central to African Americans’ political representation and issues and should lead the way resolving this centuries-old matter.

The Black Caucus now has clout and numbers to power reparations through for Reparations for Blacks.  Formed in 1971 with 13 foundering members, the CBC’s initial aim was to “positively influence the course of events pertinent to African-Americans and “achieving greater equity for persons of African descent in design and content of domestic and international programs and services.  At one time, “Reparations” was fundamental to the CBC’s formation.  As more Blacks were elected to Congress, the CBC grew.   As of 2016, the CBC has 46 members, one in the Senate and  non-voting members in the House, representing the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The first African Americans entered Congress in 1870.  Charles C. Diggs, Jr., laid the foundation of the CBC.  Diggs’ fellow member from Michigan, John Conyers, Jr. holds the record for length of service by African American Members and has served since January 3, 1965.  While the CBC is studying the apology for slavery, the organization can coalesce their power and senior committee positions behind Conyers’ H. R. 40 and help create dialogue on the legacies.

Black Lives Matter and there’s no disputing that Americans of African descent suffered centuries of crippling enslavement.  Slave reparations and concepts of compensation are not new and date back to the Civil War when freed slaves each were to receive “40 acres and a mule.”  President Andrew Johnson and the U.S. Congress rejected the idea.  Yet, in 1988, the United States agreed to pay $20,000 to 100,000 Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps during World War II. Twenty African Americans have served as committee chairs, yet the effects of empowerment are considerably less than expected for African Americans.

Some in the CBC have strayed away from reparations for Blacks.  Blacks who recognize the “moral imperative” that an acknowledgment by governments and companies that it committed acts that violated the human rights will petition CBC/s 24th Chair G.K. Butterfield to move toward gaining justice, acquiring a “clear apology” for slavery and CBC-led revitalization of H.R. 40.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America”.

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