this is taken from the Charleston, South Carolina Post and Courier's website Charleston.net
Slavery: Paybacks coming?By ERIN TEXEIRA
Reparations activists gaining momentum
Advocates who say black Americans should be compensated for slavery and its Jim Crow aftermath are quietly chalking up victories and gaining momentum.
Fueled by the work of scholars and lawyers, their campaign has morphed in recent years from a fringe-group rallying cry into a sophisticated, mainstream movement. Most recently, a pair of churches apologized for their part in the slave trade, and one is studying ways to repay black church members.
The overall issue is hardly settled, even among black Americans. Some say that focusing on slavery shouldn't be a top priority or that it doesn't make sense to compensate people generations after a historical wrong.
Yet reparations efforts have led a number of cities and states to approve measures that force businesses to publicize their historical ties to slavery. Several reparations court cases are in progress, and international human rights officials are increasingly spotlighting the issue.
"This matter is growing in significance rather than declining," said Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor and a leading reparations activist. "It has more vigor and vitality in the 21st century than it's had in the history of the reparations movement."
The most recent victories for reparations advocates came in June, when the Moravian Church and the Episcopal Church apologized for owning slaves, and promised to battle current racism.
The Episcopalians also launched a national, yearslong investigation into church slavery links and into whether the church should compensate black members. A white church member, Katrina Browne, also screened, at the denomination's national assembly, a documentary focusing on white culpability.
The Episcopalians debated slavery and reparations for years before reaching an agreement, said Jayne Oasin, social justice officer for the denomination, who will oversee its work on the issue.
Historically, slavery was an uncomfortable topic for the church. Some Episcopal bishops owned slaves, and the Bible was used to justify the practice, Oasin said.
"Why not (take these steps) 100 years ago?" she said. "Let's talk about the complicity of the Episcopal Church as one of the institutions of this country who, of course, benefited from slavery."
Also in June, a North Carolina commission urged the state government to repay the descendants of victims of a violent 1898 campaign by white supremacists to strip blacks of power in Wilmington, N.C. As many as 60 blacks died, and thousands were driven from the city.
The commission also recommended state-funded programs to support local black businesses and home ownership.
The report came weeks after the Organization of American States requested information from the U.S. government about a 1921 race riot in Tulsa, Okla., in which 1,200 homes were burned and as many as 300 blacks were killed. An OAS official said the group might pursue the issue as a violation of international human rights.
The modern reparations movement revived an idea that's been around since emancipation, when black leaders argued that newly freed slaves deserved compensation.
About six years ago the issue started gaining momentum again. Randall Robinson's "The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks," was a best seller; reparations became a central issue at the World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa; and California legislators passed the nation's first law forcing insurance companies that do business with the state to disclose their slavery ties. Illinois passed a similar insurance law in 2003, and the next year Iowa legislators began requesting, but not forcing, the same disclosures.
Several cities, including Chicago, Detroit and Oakland, Calif., have laws requiring that all businesses make such disclosures.
Reparations opponents insist that no living American should have to pay for a practice that ended more than 140 years ago. Plus, programs such as affirmative action and welfare already have compensated for past injustices, said John McWhorter, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute.
"The reparations movement is based on a fallacy that cripples the thinking on race, the fallacy that what ails black America is a cash problem," said McWhorter, who is black. "Giving people money will not solve the problems that we have."
Even so, support is reaching beyond blacks and the South.
Katrina Browne, the white Episcopalian filmmaker, is finishing a documentary about her ancestors, the DeWolfs of Bristol, R.I., the biggest slave-trading family in U.S. history. She screened it for Episcopal Church officials at the June convention.
"Traces of the Trade: A Story From the Deep North" details how the economies of the Northeast and the nation as a whole depended on slaves.
"A lot of white people think they know everything there is to know about slavery. We all agree it was wrong and that's enough," Browne said. "But this was the foundation of our country, not some Southern anomaly. We all inherit responsibility."
She says neither whites nor blacks will heal from slavery until formal hearings expose the full history of slavery and its effects.
A look at slavery reparations efforts
Some key recent developments in the push for slavery reparations:
--Every year since 1989, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has pushed unsuccessfully for a federal law ordering a study of reparations.
--Disclosure laws have prompted companies including health provider Aetna Inc. and financiers Lehman Brothers and Wachovia Corp. to apologize for slavery ties. After JPMorgan Chase reported that two of its predecessor banks owned more than 1,200 Louisiana slaves taken as collateral in the 1800s, the bank established a $5 million scholarship fund for Louisiana blacks.
--Several lawsuits against 19 insurance, textile, railroad, financial services and tobacco companies with similar ties are making their way through federal courts.
--Advocates are calling for boycotts until such companies make reparations, said Kibibi Tyehimba, national co-chair of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, or N'COBRA.
--Academics are researching the issue and publicizing their work at conferences, including one in February at the University of California, Berkeley, and two in March at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Another is scheduled this month in Ghana.
Ok now here's my lil ole rant..and I'll just put on my flame suit afterword. First of all..Why in the HELL am I paying for something my so called ancestors did...(and I know my ancestors didn't even do it cuz we were the poor damn white southern people..hell we were probably with the slaves too).
Second, how did it exactly hurt the one's alive today that their ANCESTORS were slaves and they need reparations and "black only" housing and business loans. I could understand if we were giving reparation to people who were slaves but come on..people whose ancestors were slaves..give me a break. Why don't we just say that my ancestors were poor white immigrants so I need reparations because I feel they were discriminated against by the rich white immigrants.
Why are we apologizing to people that we haven't hurt?? Why don't I just go over to the neighbors and apologize because she got a paper cut from licking an envelope??
I just think Black, White, Green, Red, Yellow, or Purple we are all human and we need to get over this shit. It's stupid and idiotic. We need to move forward and become one with each other. How can we expect our children to not look at color, outside looks,etc and to see the beauty within each other when we can't even get over something that happened to our ANCESTORS over 140 years ago. I personally teach my children that everyone brings something to the table and no matter what they look like or act like that there is something about everyone that is unique and beautiful, sometimes we have look to look hard but it is there.