Reparations: A Timeline and Distillation

There has been a long, historical and geographically varied movement on the issue of Reparations that preceded contemporary entry and discourse — 129 years and counting, in fact. On Wednesday, Dr. Conrad Worrill, writer, educator and activist, outlined on social media a thorough reparations timeline, mapping and distilling what Dr. Greg Carr called a “long arc of reparations struggles into digestible touchstones with key organizations, representative figures and events. [Dr. Worrill has] given a new generation (and others) a point of departure for understanding the U.S. struggle and its connectivity globally.”

“For those who truly care about the forward motion of the Reparations Movement in America,” said Worrill, “it is my hope that the timeline I presented will help us understand the cumulative and historical foundation for the current status of this Movement. It’s a cumulative evolution.”

1890-1916: The sell-out of Field Order #15; Callie House, National Ex Slave Mutual Relief Bounty and Pension Association;

1914 to present: UNIA and the Garvey Movement;

1948: Genocide Convention Treaty, UN;

1950: Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad begins to voice their demands for Reparations; Robert Brock in the 1950s started Reparations Movement in Calif., spent 40 years working on the issue;

1951: Paul Robeson, William Patterson, W.E.B. Du Bois launch 1951 Genocide Campaign;

1955: Reemergence of grassroots organizing around the demand for Reparations;

1962: Queen Mother Moore and Dara Abubakari form Reparations Committee — they delivered communique to UN;

1963: Organized petition of 1 million signature for support of the demand for Reparations;

1968: Founding of Republic of New Afrika (RNA) with Imari Obadele;

1969: James Forman disrupts Riverside Church in New York and presents Black Manifesto Reparations demands;

1972: National Black Political Convention, Reparations resolution passed by ten thousand people and presented to all Presidential candidates; African Liberation Day, 60, 000 people and issue of Reparations raised;

Throughout 1980s: African Peoples Socialist Party sponsored nationwide Reparations hearings; Reparations Ray emerges in Detroit as a leading Reparations activist;

1987 to present: National Coalition of Blacks in America (N’COBRA) formed. It becomes premiere Reparations org in the US; Dorothy Lewis Benton, founder of Black Reparations Commission publishes two informative books on Reparations;

1988: Massachusetts State Senator Bill Owens filed a Reparations Resolution with State Legislature in Mass;

1989: Congressman John Conyers’ HR40 Study Bill introduced;

1993: The First Pan African Conference on Reparations was held in Abuja, Nigeria, April 27-29 and attended by African Americans

1994:  Lost and Found Nation of Islam/Silas Muhammad Petition for hearings at UN on Reparations;

1994, 1995: Florida legislature passes reparations settlement in Rosewood, Florida;

1995: On October 16, during brief NOI MMM presentation, Dr. Worrill mentioned the demand for Reparations, freeing all political prisoners and support for African Centered Education.

1995: CATO Decision, California courts ruled against reparations lawsuit;

1996-1997: National Black United Front (NBUF) Genocide Campaign: Holocaust, Genocide – Reparations;

1998: Africa Group Resolution [states] that the Transatlantic Slave Trade was a Crime Against Humanity;

1999: Tulsa Race Riot Commission established;

2000: Legal Strategist/Atty. Deadria Farmer-Paellmann launches campaign to expose corporate complicity in slavery; secures apology from Aetna, Inc.

2000: The Dec 12th Movement role in following Malcolm X’s idea of exposing the plight of African people before world bodies. They have played a leading role in organizing around the Transatlantic Slave Trade was a Crime Against Humanity as an NGO for 15 years at the UN.

2000: Local municipalities adopt resolutions in support of HR40 during the most publicized Chicago Alderman Dorothy Hearing; Atty. Adjoa Aiyetoro, N’COBRA Lawsuit; RNA Reparations Lawsuit; Reparations/Assessment Discussion of Lawsuit: Cochran, Pires, Ogletree, Gary, etc.

2000: Mass discussions of Reparations and a variety of strategies unfold: Lawsuits, Trust Funds/education, Land set asides, International law, release of political prisoners and other prisoners, economic development funds;

2001: Pan African Unity convenes on the Question of Reparations;

2001: The Durban 400 and the African and African American Descendants Caucus and Pan African Unity on the Question of the TransAtlantic Slave Trade, Slavery, Colonialism and Apartheid being Crimes Against Humanity and that Reparations are owed to African people worldwide;

2001: Publication of Randall Robinson’s “The Debt,” which presents a powerful argument for Reparations for the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade;

2002: Attorney Deadria Farmer Paellmann sues more than 20 U.S. corporations for their predecessor companies profiteering from the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade. Millions for Reparations Rally Called by the Durban 400 on Aug 17th 2002 in Washington, DC. Attended by 50,000 people, viewed by millions on C-SPAN; March 21, Queen Mother Reparations Bill introduced by Councilman Charles Barron (NY) recognizing the Transatlantic Slave Trade as a Crime Against Humanity; Oct. 2nd, Chicago Slave Era Disclosure Act-Corporations must disclose their ties to slavery prior to conducting business;

2002-2003: Reparations Lawsuits; the addition of corporate entities to target groups for Reparations lawsuits; Reparations Corporate Lawsuit filed March 26, 2002 in Brooklyn, NY; Tulsa Riot Reparations Lawsuit filed February 24, 2003 in Tulsa, Oklahoma;

2003: February 26th, First Hearing of the Consolidated Class Action Corporate Lawsuit in Chicago Federal Court. Lead Attorneys were Lionel Jean-Baptiste and Roger Wareham. Over a two-year period Millions For Reparations organized mass rallies on the streets and filled the courtroom; Dr. Raymond Winbush’s book on the reparations question, “Should America Pay?”; Creation of Ndaba Movement by Dr. Conrad Worrill, former National Chair of NBUF. Over a period of one year, five cities in the U.S.-Chicago, Jackson, Miss., Houston, Baltimore, and Atlanta hosted mass meetings with Minister Farrakhan and Worrill educating thousands about reparations;

2003-2004: Other City Council Resolutions (following the Chicago Model) require corporations to disclose their ties to slavery, January 8th, Reparations Lawsuit filed by Bob Brown in Chicago, March 20th Phase IV of NBUF Genocide Reparations Petition Campaign, worldwide;

2004: March 20th, Nationwide NBUF Elected Officials Reparations Survey Scorecard Campaign; May 12th, 2004 Second Reparations Lawsuit filed by Bob Brown, Chicago;

2005: Millions More Movement organized by Minister Farrakhan endorses reparations for the Transatlantic Slave Trade;

2005-2007: State of Illinois Transatlantic Slave Trade Commission established and two reports published;

2006: Wilmington Race Riot Report published in N.C calling for reparations for the 1898 Wilmington Massacre;

By 2007 all Reparations Lawsuits were dismissed on the U.S. legal concept of Statute of Limitations. Under International Law this concept does not apply. That’s why International Reparations organizing is important;

2008: Institute of the Black World sponsored the State of the Black World Conference on September 8, 2008 in New Orleans, major reparations workshop held with reparations scholars, organizers and activists from throughout the United States;

2008-2016: Reparations Movement conflicted on strategy related to President Barack Obama’s tenure in office. N’COBRA, NBUF and others continued to push HR40. N’COBRA sponsored through their National Plans of Actions, in Feb., each year around the country –Reparations Awareness Days;

2014: Institute of the Black World and the Carruthers Center For Inner City Studies led by Dr. Ron Daniels sponsored CARICOM Representatives at a major forum on Reparations at Chicago State University, April 19, 2014. Prominent leaders spoke prior to Hillary Beckles – author of the profound book “Britain’s Black Debt.” ; Minister Farrakhan, Dr. Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Dr. Iva Carruthers, Kamm Howard and Worrill preceded Beckles presentation on CARICOM’s Ten Point Reparations Program. More than 3,000 in attendance; The Atlantic Monthly magazine publishes Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “A Case For Reparations”; discussions continue around his article exposing real estate rip off of Black people on Chicago’s Westside in the 50’s and early ‘60s;

2015: National African American Reparations Commission (NARRC) established at York College in N.Y. Over a three year period NAARC and N’COBRA collaborated in upgrading HR40 beyond just a Study Bill;

2018: Yvette Carnell and Antonio Moore establish #ADOS hashtag, stirs up great controversy regarding their Reparations conceptualization and positions; great deal of their strategy is based on Duke University professor, Dr. William Darity’s research on African-American wealth gap disparities;

2019: U.S. House to hold reparations hearing on Juneteenth with testimony from Ta-Nehisi Coates and Danny Glover.

“As a young person who joined the Black Liberation Movement in the 1960s, I have experienced, and observed, Movements aimed at addressing some area of our condition, come and go,” states Worrill. “But the one Movement that has remained a constant area of organizing and activism that is at the heart of the full repair needed for African people in America, and throughout the African world, has been the issue of Reparations. Over these decades, I have read countless books and articles from a multiplicity of sources regarding Reparations. I have attended countless lectures, forums and meetings around the world on the issue of Reparations.”

He continues: “… Please read or re-read “The Destruction of Black Civilization” by the late great scholar, historian, researcher and master teacher, Dr. Chancellor Williams. When the book was first published in the early ’70s and then re-published by the Third World Press in 1974, it became the talk and discussion of the Black Movement for several years. I am suggesting it be revisited, particularly by the younger generation of scholars, organizers, activists, teachers and the Black community as a whole. The esteemed ancestor, Dr. John Henrik Clarke, in urging us to read the book when it was first published had this to say: ‘A foundation and new approach to the history of our race … It was pioneering research into unexplored areas. This book is not only urgently needed now, but it will be read by future generations.'”

Additional reading: “Chronology of the Reparations Movement of African Americans,” by Ray Winbush and Conrad Worrill

Photo Credit: A young girl attends a slavery reparations protest outside of the New York Life Insurance Company offices on August 9, 2002, in New York City. Mario Tama/Getty Images



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