Chicago activists tell the UN that reparations are owed now

1/29/2016, 2:07 p.m.
“What do we want? One, we want reparations now, including new and substantial investments in the education of children of ...
United Nations General Assembly hall

“What do we want? One, we want reparations now, including new and substantial investments in the education of children of African descent. Two, we want a parallel education system controlled by people of African descent that is responsible for educating children of African descent. Three, we want the support of the U.S. and the U.N. to connect the education of children of African descent to the development economically of people and communities of African descent around the world,” stated Philip Jackson, director of the Chicago-based Black Star Project during his testimony before a U.N. fact-finding committee in Chicago Jan. 24.

The United Nations hearings by the Committee for People of African Descent were held at Chicago State University on Jan. 24 and 25. Before the two-day hearings began, the committee said in a press release they would be meeting with local government officials, non-government organizations and people on the ground to determine if people of African descent in the region were being treated within the realm of the humane standards of the U.N. The committee met with activists from Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., Detroit and Minnesota.

Jan. 29 in Washington, D.C., the working group will hold a press conference detailing their findings. The final draft will be released to the Committee to Eliminate all forms of Racial Discrimination in Geneva, Switzerland.

“The U.N. working group coming to Chicago now was very special to us,” Jackson told the AmNews. “Black Star is about working to properly and successfully educate Black children.” He called attention to the headlines on Jan. 26 reporting the findings from the Univeristy of Illinois at Chicago’s Great Cities Institute that said 47 percent of young Black men aged 20-24 in Chicago aren’t working or in school, compared to 32 percent of Black men nationwide, and 31 percent both in New York and Los Angeles.

“What this nation has taken away from the young men of Chicago is a sense of purpose,” Jackson told the U.N. working group.

The U.N. people stated that the two-day session in Chicago this past weekend was one of the best civil society meetings in some time, J.R. Fleming of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Coalition told the AmNews. “We wanted the U.N. to understand that what was happening to Black people was an institutional genocidal act,” he said.

“The U.N. said they wanted the ‘complete’ story, and we gave them just that,” explained Khamm Howard of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations. “We are charging genocide—intentional retardation of our young people,” he told the AmNews. He said that during his testimony, he explained how the U.S. violated the human rights of Blacks.

“We want the world to understand the brutality here, to un-mask America—seeing America in its most brutal state,” Howard said. “And we want the U.N. to know that now is the time for reparations, cessation of the policies that allow for the brutal behavior, restitution and compensation.”

The fact-finding committee was composed of Mirelle Fanon-Mendez, chairperson from France, Sabelo Gumedze of South Africa and Ricardo A. Sunga from the Philippines.

Others who gave testimony included attorney Standish Willis of the National Council of Black Lawyers, Dr. Eva Carruthers of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Cecil Johnson of the New Black Agenda Consortium, Pat Hill of Chicago Independent Human Rights and Corey Mason of Fearless Leading for the Youth.