New York, July 13, 2016….The National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC) is applauding the Illinois House of Representatives for passing last week an historic resolution calling on President Barack Obama to create a national reparations study commission.
“We salute and applaud the Illinois legislators on their courageous action,” said Dr. Ron Daniels, convenor of the NAARC and President of the Institute of the Black World (IBW). “We call on other state legislatures across the country to follow the example of Illinois.”
Introduced by Rep. Lashawn Ford and co-sponsored by Reps. Mary Flowers, Litesa Wallace, Monique Davis, Camille Lilly and Marcus Evans, Jr., Illinois House Resolution 1011 was adopted in an equally historic, unanimous vote.
The Resolution calls on President Obama, through executive order, to commission a study to detail the “economic impact” of enslavement and the failure of the nation to create a system that guaranteed equality to newly freed African descendants upon emancipation.
In addition, the resolution says the study should look at how others who received reparations in America have benefited from them and offer reparations proposals that address the legacy of enslavement among current African descendants in the areas of “education, employment, housing, health care and social justice.”
“Many years ago, it was promised to slaves and the descendants of slaves that they would be repaid not only for the forced labor that helped build this country to its current greatness, but for the terror that was slavery” said Rep. Ford, the sponsor of this legislation. “Given the real history of our country and the role slavery played in it, launching a commission to study slavery and the role of reparations is appropriate.”
This is the first reparations legislation (in the modern era) passed by a state legislature that calls for the federal government to intercede to address “obstacles that people of African descent face resulting from the economic exploitation, abuse, and terror of enslavement and its aftermath, Jim Crow segregation.”
On June 24, 2015, NAARC wrote to President Obama “strongly urging” that he use the tragic massacre of nine bible study members at the historic Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. a few days before to issue an executive order creating the John Hope Franklin Commission on Reparatory Justice.
“The American nation cannot heal until it confronts and addresses the injustices of the past and those that are being perpetrated today against people of African descent as a consequence of systemic/structural bias that infects every area of life in this society,” stated the letter. “There can be no real peace until there is justice, repair and healing for black people in this country. Therefore, Mr. President, in the name of the esteemed Dr. John Hope Franklin and in honor of his 100th birthday it is fitting that you create an opportunity to finish the unfinished work of President Clinton’s Commission on Race which Dr. Franklin chaired twenty two years ago.”
“I’m pleased to see that the State of Illinois recognizes that it is unable to address the acute inequalities that enslavement and continued racial injustices have produced among its African-American citizens,” said Kamm Howard, a member of NARRC and a leader of N’Cobra (The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America).
“Nor should this burden be on the states alone. Enslavement and racial segregation were laws sanctioned by the federal government. As such, and because they were crimes against humanity, the federal government is mandated by international human rights norms to fully repair the harms created by those crimes”, he added.
Rep Ford was inspired, in part, to spearhead this legislation by the visit of the United Nations Working Group of Experts for People of African Descent to Chicago earlier this year. Concluding their Jan 2016 visit, the UN Working Group stated:
“There is a profound need to acknowledge that the transatlantic slave trade was a crime against humanity and among the major sources and manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and that Africans and people of African descent were victims of these acts and continue to be victims of their consequences. Past injustices and crimes against African Americans need to be addressed with reparatory justice.”