- Fort Worth joins Dallas, passes slavery reparations resolution (FCN, 06/01/2004)
- Ndaba III: Taking reparations to the streets–and Congress (FCN, 04/06/2004)
- Ndaba: ‘A great sitting-down’ (FCN, 08/09/2003)
- The Movement for Reparations (Minister Louis Farrakhan, 08/16/2002)
BALTIMORE (FinalCall.com) – The reparations movement came to the city by the bay for the fourth ndaba, a South African Zulu word for “the great sitting down.” Activists from around the country gathered at Morgan State University to continue the momentum of demanding reparations for Black people in America.
For more than a year, national organizations have come together to bring unity to the various strategies that are working simultaneously to achieve reparations.
“We are creating a process and mechanism by which key players in this movement can collaborate and cooperate to advance the demand for reparations for Blacks in America,” said Dr. Conrad Worrill, national chair of the National Black United Front, to The Final Call.
“We have been coming together for the great sitting down in Chicago, Jackson, Miss. and Houston. That has manifested into a great getting up on our part. We have a two-prong strategy to accomplish our goals of advancing this movement. First, we have established working groups facilitated by key activists in the reparations movement. These groups will look at areas to build group input from around the country leading to action,” he explained.
The working groups are Organization Collaboration, Legislative, Criminal Justice, Education, Black Spiritual Faith Community, Ayare-Sa (Internal Healing), Legal Strategies, Youth and Research and Scholarship. The groups are headed by nationally known activists, such as Nation of Islam’s ministers Abdullah Muhammad and Abdul Akbar Muhammad, Dr. Marimba Ani and Attorney Lionel Jean Baptiste.
“We want the working groups to prepare a reparations platform and curricula to help expand activists’ ability to organize at the grassroots level,” Dr. Worrill added.
The second prong is the petition drive for one million signatures.
“This action grew out of our meeting in March. We came to Ndaba IV with more than 100,000 signatures,” he noted. “We have that number primarily because of the Nation of Islam and The Final Call newspaper. We are humbly and eternally grateful for the leadership of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. With his support and guidance, we are seeing a maturing taking place in our organizing process.”
The petition drive has been extended until March so more can participate by signing the petition. “We want to be able to participate with N’COBRA (National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America) in their lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. in March. We want to accompany and support them. We also want people to join us as we present the petitions to Congress.”
Dr. Raymond Winbush, director of Morgan State University’s Institute for Urban Research, welcomed the more than 200 participants to Ndaba IV.
“This is the city of Frederick Douglass, Billie Holiday, Hubie Blake and Tupac Shakur. It’s also the city of Jada Pinkett Smith, who helped sponsor this event. She gave us some money to help make this possible. We’ve been working since July to make this happen and this event is very important.”
During his opening address, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan thanked the various groups which included The New Black Panther Party, N’COBRA, Republic of New Afrika, Global African Congress, Trinity United Church of Christ and the Morgan State Graduate Student Association.
“We should be able to chart a course that will lead to our total liberation,” said Min. Farrakhan. “Our people are in the valley of the shadow of death, going to hell in a handbasket. Ndaba is very important. This is bigger than all of us in this room.”
He further explained that if Black people want White supremacy to fall, we must rise. “Anything that brings us down is our enemy and his friend,” he said.
His remarks were followed by Dr. Mary Frances Berry, chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission presentation on Callie House, mother of the reparations movement.
Callie House was a washer woman with five children who advocated the idea of petitioning the government to give pensions to Blacks coupled with a mutual assistance fund. The movement grew all over the country, and while she was talking to churches about pensions and mutual aid, the government was plotting against her.
“How can we stop her,” explained Dr. Berry, recounting the government’s plot. She has compiled research on Callie House that will be the focus of an upcoming book. “We’ll accuse her of postal fraud.”
The ndaba concluded with a mass rally, packing close to 3,000 people at the Prince Hall Masonic Temple.
“We’re here this evening because we’re following in the footsteps of our ancestors who never gave up. One of those was Callie House, who was indicted in 1915 for fraud for raising money for reparations,” said Dr. Worrill. “We’re also here because a crime was committed in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. We have 569 years of evidence that it was a crime against humanity.”
Min. Farrakhan was the keynote speaker for the evening and was introduced by Rev. John Wright, pastor of First Baptist Church of Guilford. “We don’t need Time magazine, the New York Times or the Washington Post to call him great. We already know that. We don’t need the White House or the Supreme Court to save us. We are saved by great leadership like Min. Farrakhan.”
The minister was received by a thunderous applause and it was several minutes before he could begin his address. He thanked Dr. Winbush for organizing Ndaba IV and told the audience that it was his honor to be present to talk about that which will cure 400 years of damage.
He told the crowd that reparations means justice for the crime and that it was time for the total liberation of Black people from the power of their adversaries.
“The time is over for us to look for a benevolent Caucasian to help us solve our problems. We are not going to depend on a benevolent White person to do for us what is our responsibility to do for ourselves.”
Min. Farrakhan spoke to the presidential elections and the fact that most of them in the audience would be voting for Sen. John Kerry. He explained that a President John Kerry would only give Black people access that they don’t have now.
“Access will not translate into any appreciable difference in the lives of the masses,” he said. “Can you find in this economic system what you need to repair the damage? We need a new economic system and a new education system to repair the damage,” he insisted. “You can only be a new woman or a new man with a new idea.”
For many in the audience that night, the weekend with Min. Farrakhan concluded at Muhammad Mosque No. 6 where he also spoke to a standing-room-only crowd.
Minister Carlos Muhammad said, “The whole weekend was historic for the city of Baltimore. This is a city in crisis and many of the issues touched on by the Minister were timely and needed to be heard by our people.”
Minister Farrakhan elaborated on his plans to bring men back to Washington, D.C. for the 10th Anniversary of the Million Man March. He wants to develop a 10-year plan of action for the total liberation of Black people.
“There was something men felt being with men at the march. The weight of carving out a future rests on the man,” Min. Farrakhan stressed. “She (the woman) has been assigned to be our helpmeet, but she can’t help us if we’re not doing anything.”