Reparations for Blacks Topic at Bay Area Events

Hanna Tamrat, Oakland Tribune, Nov. 3, 2006

Political and social activists, historians and educators from the United States and around the world are gathering in the Bay Area this weekend to discuss reparations for slavery of African people and colonialism in Africa.

“The wealth of the West is built on slavery of African people,” said Penny Hess, chairwoman of the African People Solidarity Committee. “White people need to recognize it and support (reparations).”

Hess is one of nine speakers during the two-day event set for Saturday in Oakland and Sunday in San Francisco. The event celebrates African People Solidarity Day and calls for the white community to be involved in the Uhuru movement, the liberation of Africa and African people.

The Solidarity Committee, with a majority white membership, was formed in 1976 to support the black movement.

Helping to ease hardship in Africa should go beyond charity concerts and adoption of African children by movie stars, Hess said.

It is about a movement that recognizes resources that sustain the Western economy—including oil, diamonds and coltan (a mineral used in the high-technology industry)—come at the expense of African laborers, who work for the equivalent of $2 per day, she said.

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In the United States, the question of reparations is gaining popularity with cities across the country, including Oakland and Berkeley, passing ordinances requiring financial entities to disclose whether they or their parent companies ever profited from the slave trade. The ordinances also set the stage for companies to contribute to a voluntary fund to be spent in economically depressed areas.

At the international level, a coalition of organizations and individuals from various nations have scheduled a tribunal in June in Berlin for reparations against the United States, Europe and other nations.

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