Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The NAACP and Reparations, Part II

I was invited to speak at the National Convention of the NAACP in Milwaukee on July 10. There were about 200 attorneys (majority Afrikan but not all) attending a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) class on a host of issues involving Afrikans in America. I was struck by the number of *whites* at the meeting who seemed to be "authorities" on reparations. Presenting on the panel was Adjoa Aiyetoro, old friend and now teaching at the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, Keenan Keller from Congressman Conyers office, and me. I went first and gave history, Keenan second with the status of cases and Adjoa gave a passionate overview of the Tulsa case. Adjoa told about the political nature of the decisions being made by judges, particularly on the issue of "equitable tolling". She underscored how it was important for us to recognized that these decisions were made with an eye toward "opening the floodgates" to reparations lawsuits.

The presentation was very well received. Afterwards, one of the white "experts" on reparations (from Australia no less) challenged us about whether nations could be sued from crimes against humanity. I cited studies outlined by Jon Van Dyke in my book, "Should America Pay?: Slavery and the Raging Debate on Reparations, but he seen oblivious AND opposed to the idea that nations can be held liable for crimes against humanity. He clearly didn't know what he was talking about and later we found that he was only a "legal intern" and had not even passed the bar!

I gave the group Deadria Farmer-Paellmann's phone number and told them that they needed to help in the litigation. Several of the attorneys present wrote her number down. We will see if they follow through.

All in all it was an important day for the NAACP. Even though they passively embraced to support the reparations struggle in 1991, the took a big step today in inviting us for a three hour discussion on the subject...

1 comment:

  1. I and others appreciate the work that you and others do. Thank you.