Democratic Platform Supports Reparations Effort

Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2000
From: Wayne Young
Dorothy B. Lewis
Hannibal Afrik>
Release Date: IMMEDIATE
Contact: Wayne Young (202) 583-3438

Under the heading "Building One America," the 2000 Democratic National
Platform includes support for H.R. 40, The Commission to Study Reparations
for African Americans. This marks the first time that a major American
political party has endorsed the bill that the National Coalition of Blacks
for Reparations America (N'COBRA) has long supported. "It represents a
monumental accomplishment for Representative John Conyers, his relentless
support and N'COBRA's grass-roots mobilization for the past eleven years for
the most important human rights issue in America today," says N'COBRA
national male co-chair Hannibal Afrik.

The Democrats' support comes only months after more than 500 people
participated in N'COBRA's Town Hall meeting on June 16 during their week-long
11th annual conference in Washington, D.C. The Town Hall meeting focused on
identifying the damages caused by the enslavement of African-Americans, its
continuing effects, and remedies for repair. Representative John Conyers, Jr.
(D-MI) was the Honorary Chairperson of the lively three-hour Town Hall

"Reparations seek to remedy the period in which at least four million of our
ancestors were enslaved without compensation," said Conyers during the Town
Hall meeting. Randall Robinson, president of TransAfrica and author of The
Debt continued, "Blacks must understand that wealth is intergenerational" and
that our ancestors were denied the opportunity to pass down the fruits of
their labor to their children.

Specifically, the Platform statement reads:
Democrats believe that God has given the people of our nation not only a
chance, but a mission to prove to men and women throughout this world that
people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, of all faiths and creeds,
cannot only work and live together, but can enrich and ennoble both
themselves and our purpose. America's diversity is expanding, yet amidst
important signs to progress, there is widespread evidence of persistent
discrimination, growing racial segregation in our schools and neighborhoods,
and dream-crushing barriers to opportunity. We cannot - we dare not - remain
a divided nation. Our vision is of an America healed of hatreds and
misunderstanding, with equality and opportunity so rich that legacies of
discrimination and exclusion will be found only in history books, and not in
our communities.

To that end, Democrats support creation of a commission of distinguished
scholars and civic leaders to examine the history of slavery, discrimination,
and exclusion suffered by all minorities; to report on the continuing effects
of those tragic chapters in our history, and to make appropriate
recommendations on behalf of the American people.
Since 1867, at least five congresspersons have introduced reparations bills
including Representative Thaddeus Stevens (R-PA). His bill called for the
confiscation of Confederate property for the benefit of "slaves who have been
liberated by the operations of the war and the amendment to the
Constitution." Various Senators introduced subsequent reparations bills in
1896, 1898, 1899, and 1903.

Conyers has introduced H.R. 40 in Congress every year since 1989 where it has
been stuck in committee. Chances of the bill coming out of a committee will
be greater if the Democrats win the House of Representatives in this fall's
elections. With Democrats in control, Conyers is slated to take over the
powerful Judiciary committee.

However, N'COBRA female national co-chair Dorothy B. Lewis is not pinning her
hopes on a Democratic victory. "I think H.R. 40 will come out of Committee
anyway. Of course, I would love for Conyers to be chairman of that committee
when the bill moves forward, but it is up to us to put muscle behind it."

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