Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

Ever since the end of slavery, Africans in America have been hoping for and seeking reparations, for wrongs done against Black people for centuries.

Initially, after the US Civil War ended, Africans were offered 40 acres of land, and a mule to work the land they had worked without pay for centuries.

The promise was never realized.

The great abolitionist and religious leader, Sojourner Truth (can. 1797-1883), who was once a captive, called for reparations, saying, “America owed to my people some of the dividends…. I shall make them understand that there is a debt to the Negro people, which they can never repay. At least, then, they must make amends.”

From the day these words were first uttered, to this day, the voices of Black people called for reparations. It may surprise some, but the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. added his voice to the call.

In his 1963-’64 book, Why We Can’t Wait, King wrote: “No amount of gold could provide an adequate compensation, for the exploitation and humiliation of the Negro in America down through the centuries. Not all the wealth of this affluent society could meet the bill. Yet a price can be placed on unpaid wages” (p. 169).

King may not have said the word, ‘reparations’, but he certainty stated the idea.

Recently, the Movement for Black Lives issued a platform of issues important to Black well-being. Among the issues raised? Reparations for descendants of African captives.

Even more recently, a United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, working for the past 6 years, has concluded that US slavery was a “crime against humanity,” and the US government should pay reparations to the descendants of those humans who were wronged. The UN experts met with members of half a dozen US government agencies, including the departments of Health & Human Services, Labor, and Justice. They visited several major American cities, North, South, East and West.

Reparations may have come of age, after 2 centuries of being ignored and shunned.