Is Now the Time for Reparations for African Americans

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The idea of reparations stems from the argument that African Americans should receive compensation for their unpaid labor, captivity, and the ongoing discriminations. Slavery did provide the means for whites to build wealth, income, and status while African Americans have continued to struggle. The oppression of segregation and the lack of rights made it impossible for African Americans to have any political and economic power to change their position. African Americans were unable to vote and use the power government to better their situation, like the Irish immigrants did in New York, until the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 and that only allowed free black men to vote.

The reparations for African Americans debate has caused more disagreements than affirmative action has. On one side people believe that reparations are not relevant because it is so strenuous to identify the victims of slavery or punish those who committed the crime especially when they may be no longer around. They also think that reparations would have a negative effect on future racial grievances and the U.S. treasury. On the other side it has been argued that reparations are necessary to reach an economically equal society and reparations is the correct way of dealing with past wrong doings and the current racial inequalities in the United States. Robert L. Allen is in favor of reparations for African Americans. He believes that the problems that African Americans currently face are acquiring property, income and accumulating wealth and that these are a direct result of slavery and segregation. Allen says that reparations can be the start of redistribution of wealth in America so the economic equality between blacks and whites can be less dramatic.

African Americans have been fighting for reparations as early as 1854. The reparations were asking for “redress of our grievances for the unparalleled wrongs, undisguised impositions, and unmitigated oppression which blacks have suffered at the hands of American people.” An anti-slave activist, Sojourner Truth, campaigned to receive free public land for former slaves after the Civil War. In the 1890s, Callie House filed a lawsuit for reparations. A pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, named Reverend Amos Brown, asked for reparations by way of tax credits and tuition for higher education. In its program for establishing a separate state the Nation of Islam demanded reparations stating that “former slave masters are obligated to provide minerally rich and fertile land.” Reparations were also desired by the Black Panther Party in tier Ten Point Program. Pointing out in Point Number Three that forty acres and two mules was promised one hundred years ago and would like to receive payment in cash to distribute among the community. In 1969, in New York City, former SNCC leader James Forman presented a Black Manifesto to Riverside Church requesting five hundred million dollars in reparations from white Christian Churches and Jewish synagogues. Forman wrote in The Making of Black Revolutionaries that reparations that were being asked were not only monetary but were also for revolutionary action toward the attitude of white America towards Blacks. The money would be used to help black farmers, businesses, community organization and research on black economic development. In 1968 the Republic of New Africa was founded to establish an independent Black Republic in the southern states with the largest African American population. In 1972 the Republic of New Africa developed an Anti-Depression Program that asked for three hundred billion dollars in reparations to establish self-sustaining communities as a part of an independent black nation. The Republic of New Africa stated that with reparations it is common that one nation pay another to compensate for damage caused by unjust acts of war and that is what has happened to the African nation in America. The programs did make much progress but...
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