From: “Roland Sheppard” <Rolandgarret@AOL.COM>
Sent: Monday, March 26, 2007 7:51 PM
Subject: [LABOR-L] FYI: Black Politicians Chicken Out on Reparations

Black Politicians Chicken Out on Reparations

Commentary, William Reed, Black Press International, 25 March 2007

WASHINGTON—When will black American voters figure out that they've been sold out by inept politicians?

It's no question that during 235 years of enslavement, wages not paid to African Americans' fore parents total over $1.4 trillion. Slavery was fundamental to America's evolution into a world economic power. So, how much sense does it make for black elected officials in Virginia, Georgia, Missouri and Delaware to let those states' inheritors of America's wealth off with benign “apologies” for slavery and no money?

Black elected officials have become so ensconced in the system that they've completely retreated on issues directly affecting blacks. Through compromise and personal reward, they've bought into the “establishment” to the point they forsake politics that advance the lives and situations of constituents. The state cases illustrate how black politicians fail to leverage their access, pow er, and resources for us.

Declaring that, “It is time for Georgia, one of the major stake-holders in slavery, to say it's sorry,” Rep. Tyrone Brooks recently introduced a bill proposing that Georgia apologize for its role in slavery and segregation. Brooks' measure comes on the heels of Virginia's resolution, supported by black legi slators that expressed “regret over slavery”. Though they didn't even get a full apology, the momentum of Virginia's “success” has black legislators in other states considering similar idiotic proposals.

“It's something that's very heartfelt to me as a decedent of a slave, as a person who witnesses the residual effects of slavery,” said Rep. Talibdin El-Amin in his sponsorship of House Resolution 26, which gets Missouri to apologize for its role in slavery. El-Amin says his bill “…begins the healing process…” But how and when do we complete the process?

The U.S. government's first reparations plan to compensate African-Americans for the legacy of slavery was 40 acres and a mule. In Gen. William Sherman's promise to former slaves shortly after the Civil War, he gave an order that set aside land on the Georgia and South Carolina coasts for the settlement of newly freed families.

Over 40,000 freed slaves settled there, but President Lincoln's successor Andrew Johnson rescinded the federal government's promise and reversed the reparations.

Since Sherman's promise, the issue has been revisited time and again; sadly El-Amin's Missouri proposal will be met with disclaimers from the state's elite, who will finally capitulate in the form of “sorry, but no check”. In 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. said Sherman's promise was “a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.'”

Hopefully, Delaware State Senator Margaret Rose Henry has the sense to pursue cash money in her state. Delaware is ripe to do right. It was a slave-holding state up to the start of the Civil War. It was also a “border state,” with an abolitionist movement centered in Wilmington and slave-owning interest in southern farm areas.

In 1861, President Abraham Lincoln tried to use Delaware as a test case for a plan he hoped would avoid war. He asked Delaware's Legislature to free all the state's slaves. In return, the federal government would reimburse each owner $500 for each freed slave. Delaware's lawmakers did not act on the offer. Lincoln's “test case” crumbled and the war began.

Before Senator Henry cajoles the Delaware Legislature into another “apology” to that state's blacks, she should take note of what Permanent Court of International Justice says of reparations: “…must, as far as possible, wipe out all the consequences of the illegal act and reestablish the situation which would, in all probability, have existed if that act had not been committed. Restitution in kind or, if this is not possible, payment of a sum corresponding to the value which restitution in kind would bear; etc.…”

If black legislators are going to do anything about reparations for slavery, at least let it yield more than hollow apologies. At minimum, the deal proposed by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer—A one-time cash payment of $100,000 for every black family of four, to be financed through a 75-cent gas tax over 10 years. In return blacks would relinquish all claims for programs of racial preference.