Friday, April 03, 2009
In 1782, Belinda, an African on the Ten Hills Plantation in Medford Massachusetts, petitioned the state legislature for reparations for her 50 years of captivity and unpaid labor by her former owner, Isaac Royall. Royall had fled to Canada shortly after the American Revolution since he was a “Loyalist” to Britain and feared for his life and his own captivity what would become the United States. This story of her captivity, enslavement and liberation is an incredible tale of resilience during a time when Africans in America were seen as something a little more valuable than livestock.
Belinda’s Petition is but one in a long history of the reparations struggle that is sewn in the fabric of African history for the past 550 years. This concise story of the reparations struggle is meant to provide a “view from the bridge” on the ongoing struggle of Africans throughout the world in obtaining justice for the most heinous crime of the past millennium --- the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Whether you support or oppose reparations is unimportant; what Belinda’s Petition will show you is that the western world is built upon 500 years of the unpaid labor of millions of enslaved Africans whose call for justice has been conscious, courageous and consistent since they were first captured in 1441 by Europeans.