The Reparations Movement: “A Ragtag Collection of Racial Malcontents Marching to the Beat of Their Own Drum?”

By Dr. June Soomer

The Reparations Movement: “A Ragtag Collection of Racial Malcontents Marching to the Beat of Their Own Drum?”

I would like to thank the National Reparations Committee for inviting me to deliver this inaugural lecture to launch the Committee. Since I was on the inside I know what it has taken to reach this point. I congratulate you on this effort. It is fitting that this launch takes place on the heels of the commemoration of Emancipation Day. While emancipation occurred on a specific day in 1834 in the English speaking Caribbean, we must always remember that the fight for our freedom started from the first day of enslavement and that every act of resistance was our way of shouting that we wanted a change in our conditions. Reparation is the crescendo of that call. Emancipation can never be completed without reparation. We need never whisper again about this injustice.

I would also like to thank the open campus for continuing to support such initiatives. In the last 18 (eighteen months) you have given me this platform to deliver 3 lectures. These initiatives have helped to fill a vacuum and the intellectual discourse that you have facilitated will benefit the country in the long run.

I would also like to thank the CARICOM Secretariat for facilitating the meetings of the CARICOM Reparations Commission. The task of acting as the coordinator of a project that is so important, yet which suffers from a lack of resources, cannot be easy. Yet it was a coup when the Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies became the Chairman. As his first female PhD, I hope that tonight I will be able to add to his relentless advocacy on reparation, our history and the raising of our consciousness; all of this only puts my admiration for him at hero maximum level.

On this historic occasion, I deliver this lecture, not only as a founding member of the National Reparations Committee of Saint Lucia, but as the recently appointed Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). I am pleased to tell you that the Havana Declaration adopted at the Seventh Summit of The Association of Caribbean States (ACS) in Havana, Cuba, June 4th, 2016,

“Recognizes that slavery and the slave trade were atrocious crimes against humanity, reaffirms the Durban Declaration, in particular, the importance of establishing compensatory and reparatory effective resources and measures, among others, at the national, regional and international levels in order to cope with the persistent effects of the slavery and the transatlantic slave trade, and welcomes CARICOM’s initiative for the creation of the Reparations Commission of the Caribbean Community, and praises the efforts of said commission to correct such injustices;”

This is significant as the ACS includes 25 member states and 9 Associate Members. Here, the voice of the CARICOM reparations movement now reverberates not only in English but in French, Spanish and Dutch. The ACS is now part of what has been portrayed as this multifarious disorganized reparations movement – this Ragtag Collection of Racial Malcontents Marching to the Beat of Their Own Drum.

I chose to place emphasis on evolution of the Reparations Movement because it gave me the latitude to elucidate on why we cannot give up the fight. Within the presentation I explore the views of anti-reparations movement and give voice to some individuals who dedicated their lives to the cause of reparation. We have to call their names, lest we forget their contributions, their fight and their humanity.

So what is this pikan, this thorn in the side, that we call Reparation? Reparation is the next step in our emancipation. It is a clear political statement made by people of African descent from around the world for compensation for the crime of slavery and its concomitant and continuous denial of humanity through perverse systemic institutionalisation of discrimination in all its forms. It is a deep soulful, belly hurting cry for economic justice, repayment and repair, for truth, for reconciliation, for acknowledgement that this was a crime against humanity. It is the economic claim that the investment was blood and lives, and that the return on investment must be reparation and restitution. It is a legal claim to hold to account all former colonial countries responsible for native genocide and African enslavement.

Caribbean people have come a long way. For us to be commemorating emancipation, launching the International Decade for the People of African descent, celebrating Marcus Garvey’s birthday; for us to be discussing reparations as a region; for the governments of the region to finally agree that this should be done collectively, for whatever ulterior motive you may think they have; I know that all Caribbean people will benefit from the greater discussions about and understanding of our history. We have not had this discourse since the days of the Black Power Movement. Many of us are so affected, even ashamed that we were enslaved that we are quick to embrace the ideology that has told us, slavery is in the past, let it go; we have been told that there are many misconceptions about slavery and that we should be grateful that we were taken out of Africa. This propaganda has overshadowed and clouded the approach to reparations and the consolidated approach needed has not been consistent, persistent and pervasive enough to yield results. This propaganda has prevented the consolidation of our independence. How can we be independent when our freedom is still in abeyance?

We can change the way we fight but we must never stop fighting

Tonight I want you to know that black people did not just wake up one day and asked for reparation. If there had been no slavery there would be no call for reparations. This claim for reparations started before emancipation. In fact, I posit that it was a recurring theme alongside and intertwined with resistance in our history and that its evolution has brought us to this juncture in the discourse. According to Beckles “only the form and functions of the movement has changed since 1838.” [Hilary Beckles. Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Caribbean Slavery and Native Genocide (213)]. We can change the way we fight but we must never stop fighting.

Black people have always maintained that equality could not be decreed by law or through lofty expressions of remorse and contrition. Such expressions must be accompanied by atonement. Simply put, equality can only be achieved by addressing reparations, which places emphasis on the full extent of the damaging impact of the social and economic legacies of slavery.

The American abolitionist Frederick Douglass reminds us that, “Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and never will… The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. [Black Business Enterprise: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Contributors: Ronald W. Bailey (ed.) (xi)]. Enslaved Africans were always aware of the veracity of this statement. So that, every act of rebellion by the enslaved including staying away from work, working slowly, feigning sickness, running away to set up maroon settlement that mimicked African villages, and rebellion, was a demand for payment, better working conditions, freedom, equality and humanity. Yet, the reparations movement is often portrayed in the literature as haphazard, unorganised and pursued by angry people. These same accusers forget that on emancipation day, people who had been enslaved for more than 300 hundred years simply went to church.

In Atonement and Forgiveness: A New Model for Black Reparations, Roy L. Brooks writes, “It would be wrong to dismiss the black redress movement as a ragtag collection of racial malcontents marching to the beat of their own drum.”[4]. Brooks notes that in the United States there are several recorded cases for redress in the form of repatriation and compensation. He cites the case of Paul Cuffe, a free black man born in 1759, who financed the return to Africa for himself and thirty-eight free black men. He notes that Cuffee “came to believe the government should repatriate both slaves and free blacks to their homeland.”[5]. Free black men were part of the movement.

Ray Winbush notes, that “the first written data that we have of an African (trying) to get reparations was Belinda Royall, who by 1782 was enslaved for 50 years on Isaac Royall’s plantation… in a tiny town called Medford, Massachusetts.” He states that, “her so-called master fled on the eve of the American Revolutionary War. Issac Royall was a British loyalist who fled to [England via] Canada leaving behind about 50 enslaved persons, who were later manumitted and left to fend for themselves.” Belinda Royall sued for 50 years of unpaid labour and petitioned the Governor of the Commonwealth of Masschusettes on three different occasions for a pension. [Ray Winbush from the Urban Institute of Research at Morgan University.] Abandoned slaves were part of the reparations movement.

Actually, that petition came to be seen as a systematic but subtle statement of the right of reparations and a plea for a specific form of reparations, a very personal one (96). She had been captured in Africa at the age of 13 and her petition recounts her “suffering and unrequited toil as a consequence of slavery and the slave trade and seeks to justify her argument for an annual pension.”[96]. Her three petitions were republished by the emancipation movement and reparations would become an integral call in that movement. [Finkenbine, Roy E. “Belinda’s Petition: Reparations for Slavery in Revolutionary Massachusetts.” Free to Enslave: Politics and the Escalation of Britain’s Transatlantic. The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, Vol. 64, No. 1, (Jan., 2007), pp. 95-104]. Older women were part of the movement.

Black abolitionists would continue to build on the call for emancipation and reparations. In 1829 David Walker wrote that whites must “reconcile us to them, for the cruelties with which they have afflicted our fathers and us” and that they must “…make a national acknowledgement to us for the wrong they have inflicted on us.”[Roy E. Finkenbine,(104)].

In 1837 Hosea Easton argued in his “Treatise on the Intellectual Character, and Civil Political Conditions of the Colored People” that “the emancipated must be placed back where slavery found them, and restore to them all that slavery has taken away from them. Merely to cease beating the colored people and leave them in their gore, and call it emancipation is nonsense.” [Roy E. Finkenbine, 104]. Activists and abolitionists were part of the reparations movement.

There are also many cases of former slaves lodging individual claims against their former masters. Typical was a letter dated August 7, 1865, written by Jourdon Anderson to his former owner, Colonel P. H. Anderson. The letter said in part: “I served you faithfully for thirty-two years, and Mandy [his wife] twenty years. At twenty-five dollars a month for me, and two dollars a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to eleven thousand six hundred and eighty dollars. ” Private redress claims continue to some extent today in the form of lawsuits filed against families and corporations that benefited from slavery. Couples were part of this ragtag reparations movement.

Born in 1861 into slaveholding Rutherford County, Callie Guy, later known as Callie House, was a pioneering African American political activist who campaigned for slave reparations throughout the 1890’s. A widowed Nashville washerwoman and mother of five, House went on to fight for African American pensions based on those offered to Union soldiers, brilliantly targeting $68 million in taxes on seized rebel cotton and demanding it as repayment for centuries of unpaid labor. [Berry, Mary Frances. My Face Is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations. Paperback – October 10, 2006]. Mothers and widows became part of the movement.

Then there was John Quinlan, a surveyor from La Clery, Saint Lucia, who addressed the 1897 Royal Commission. The conditions in Saint Lucia were described as depressed. The Commission which had been established to inquire into the conditions and prospects of the Sugar-growing West India colonies noted that, “…the population is in a very depressed condition…the revenue of the colony is hardly enough to meet its expenditure…” [Report of the West India Royal Commission 1897, (46). Sir Henry Wylie Norman and Sir Edward Grey and Sir David Barbour]. In his submission Quinlan stated, “These peasants are descendants of the slaves that were emancipated 50 years ago. The British Government knows perfectly well that they are entitled to just as much consideration as their masters received 50 years ago. Of the millions due these slaves, throughout the West Indies, we in St Lucia are entitled to many hundred thousands. Make your amends Britisher while your chest is overflowing.” [Appendix C part vii (74)]. He goes on to justify his position and challenges the Commissioners by stating, “It remains with you Royal Commissioner to remind Parliament that we claim from them some compensation. We are moderate. We ask for a loan to those who are in need of it, who are fit for it, instead of asking for a free gift for which we are entitled. The gold secured from the labour of our forefathers went as clear profits to England. None of it is here now. The people are entitled to some consideration for now the force of circumstances has brought former master and slave on a financial level all will heartily welcome the gold. As the slaves when emancipated derive some benefit from the compensation to their owners, so will the descendants of the owners today derive some benefits from the considerations to the descendants of the slaves.[74]

In “Reparations” as a Dirty Word: The Norm against Slavery Reparations” Lee Harris writes that, “throughout history the clamour for reparation has been marked by attacks on the messenger.” He posits that the call for slavery reparations has come largely from historically controversial figures and groups. While some “mainstream” political actors did lend their support to the cause, it was the contentious figures like Marcus Garvey… who became the face of reparations and repatriation. [Harris, Lee A. “Reparations” as a Dirty Word: The Norm against Slavery Reparations.”] Yes, we are being told who the faces of the movement should be. The more decidedly black, the less acceptable. I can tell you that they do not like Hilary Beckles’ face either. Do you think that the anti-reparation movement will hear the voices of Caribbean leaders? Are they the best persons to represent our case? Well, we have mixed views within the region. Yes, we do have a right to say who should represent us. We should however never let the diversity of our movements impede the progress of our collective voices.

The anti-reparations movement has brutally attacked the most vocal and consistent lobby for reparations, the Rastafarian movement. The call for “Africa for Africans at a home and abroad” has been called politically naïve. The movement has insisted that there is no time limit to the moral injunction on reparations. They have marched, engaged Africa, petitioned, sang and repatriated themselves. In Jamaica they have lobbied the government to take the case through the appropriate legal channels at the International court of justice in The Hague. At a conference in Kingston, Jamaica in 2004, a member of the group made a rallying call to have a debt of £72 billion to resettle 500,000 Jamaican Rastafarians in Africa. While the figure remains controversial, the message for reparatory justice is clear. They have been ridiculed, accused of trying to shake down governments and criminal activity. This provocative movement has however remained true to the fight and will remain the voice in our heads that urges us to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery.

“None but ourselves can free our minds”: Garvey’s words immortalized by Bob Marley’s Song. Like Paul Cuffee a century before him, Marcus Garvey framed reparations as part of a plan for the mass repatriation of Jamaicans to Africa. Garvey, claimed over half a trillion dollars as a reasonable sum. He stated that such an amount would be “more than adequate to finance the repatriation of the Africans of Jamaica, and even leave a bit over to help those who elect to remain in [Jamaica].” Many careers have been built around the criticism of Marcus Garvey and his efforts to return Africans to Africa. From buffoon to traitor to madman, the character assassination has been relentless. His road to Jamaican national hero was paved with contention. On this his birthday, we must continue to fight for the restoration of his good name.

Garvey captured the collective consciousness of the African diaspora. Saint Lucia was no exception and in 1920 established its first branch of the United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and had its first march to celebrate the anniversary in 1921. Historical records reveal and Earl Bousquet reminds us, that the 1921 march had one of the largest spectator crowds, rivalled only by the visit of the Prince of Wales one year earlier. At that time Saint Lucians were interested, but feared that they would be persecuted, as throughout the region there were laws enacted against the reading Garvey’s works, membership in the UNIA, while its internationally disseminated weekly publication “Negro World”, was banned in many parts of Africa and the Caribbean.

…thank God we have them all now, as such we are asking that you hand back to us “our own civilization.” Hand back to us that which you have robbed and exploited us of in the name of God and Christianity for the last 500 years…

Amazing how fear has encouraged sanctions against our own. In Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers, we learn that two decades before Garvey landed here in October 1937, the UNIA in Saint Lucia had been branded “an organisation of agitators”. These early pioneers faced “considerable resistance and even threats to their livelihoods. Many lost their jobs as a result of their association with the UNIA, and it is little wonder that the organisation’s meetings had to be held secretly.” (ccliv). In June 1920, Saint Lucia passed the Seditious Publication Bill suspending newspapers containing language that was considered subversive. This bill had already been passed in Trinidad, St. Vincent and Grenada. This however did not stop “The Negro World” for the Dominica UNIA managed to get the newspaper to all countries in the Caribbean where it was banned [Tony Martin, “A Pan –Africanist in Dominica: J R Ralph Casimir and the Garvey Movement 1913-1923. (123-141) 136]

At the Clarke’s Theatre he challenged Saint Lucians to “Search yourselves and find out what you are best suited for; then apply yourself diligently… and you will rise – you must rise (ccliii). We therefore cannot forget those Saint Lucian who fought for the consciousness of this country; W.O. Norville; Rudolph Felix; Job E. James; Ephraim Desir and many others.

Marcus Garvey spoke without fear of retaliation. In 1916 he declared, “…thank God we have them all now, as such we are asking that you hand back to us “our own civilization.” Hand back to us that which you have robbed and exploited us of in the name of God and Christianity for the last 500 years… We are asking England to hand it back; we are asking France to hand it back; we are asking Italy to hand it back; we are asking Belgium to hand it back; we are asking Portugal to hand it back; we are asking Spain to hand it back.” .”[Marcus Garvey, excerpt from a speech made circa 1919]. Even now some of us are afraid to be associated with the regional call for reparations. Let not our fear cripple our actions.

At this point I want us to remember another provocative leader, Makandal Daaga the CARICOM Cultural Ambassador Extraordinaire of Trinidad and Tobago. Recall that he was the one who relentlessly campaigned throughout the region and internationally, to have August 1 declared a public holiday to commemorate Emancipation Day. This ragtag reparationist, Pan Africanist and leader in the Black Power Revolution of 1970 in Trinidad and Tobago, was at one time banned from every Caribbean territory except, Guyana. The treatment he received in the 1970’s certainly mock the admiration expressed in the recent condolences messages.

There are many ten point plans against reparations and all ask why are we asking innocent descendants to pay? Well, we can start our response with the argument posited in 1810 by Timothy Dwight the President of Yale who in a sermon declared, “It is in vain to allege that our ancestors brought them hither and not we…We inherit our ample patrimony with all its incumbrances and we are bound to pay the debt of our ancestors. This debt, particularly, we are bound to discharge: and when the righteous Judge of the universe comes to reckon with his servants, he will rigidly exact the payment at our hands. To give them liberty, and stop here, is to entail upon them a curse.” [Timothy Dwight, The Charitable Blessed: A Sermon Preached in the First Church in New Haven, August 8, 1810 (New Haven, Conn,)1810, 22-23]

S. Amighetti & A. Nuti in their critique of David Miller’s theory of redress state that he did not so far enough in assigning blame for these injustices to nations. They instead explore the thesis that in the case of complex historical injustices, the emphasis must be on colonialism. They posit that the colonial project which subjugated people from the 1500 to the independence movements reveals the systemic nature of the colonial injustice, which “featured an economic structure, which entailed the exploitation of the resources and labour of the colonised… the establishment of unequal political relations… a systematic cultural injustice… the local cultures were either completely destroyed (especially in Africa) or coercively changed…(5) They add that “the cultural injustices of colonialism led also to the establishment of significant psychological structures, which strengthened the power of the colonisers and were subsequently internalised by the colonised.

By destroying or devaluing the culture of the colonised nation, colonisers constantly remarked their alleged superiority over the colonised. The historical injustice of colonialism thus entailed a full dominion over the mind of the colonised. “(6) Reparations they argue must therefore take into consideration all the complexities of these interwoven parts that remain pervasive in post- colonial societies. [David Miller’s theory of redress and the complexity of colonial injustice [Amighetti, Sara and Nuti, A . “Ethics & Global Politics” , (2015) 8]. Beckles is clear on this, “those who have committed the crime and benefited from criminal enrichment, including the descendants of the criminal, are liable to make restitution.” [Beckles H. Britain’s Black Debt (13)]

By now you should realize that there is no remoteness of slavery as experienced by our ancestors. There is no remoteness of the self-hate that we have been taught. There is no remoteness of the destitute economic conditions that prevailed at the time we were granted independent status. There is no remoteness of the demoralized state of affairs that we have been made to accept.

Another pervasive anti-reparations argument is that African labour did not make Europe rich. The same barefaced argument is made in the United States of America. From Marcus Garvey, to Walter Rodney, to Eric Williams to Hilary Beckles, there is a proliferation of literature to the contrary. From the establishment of the African Royal Company established by the British government and the privateers who were given royal charters; to the expansion of wealth of individuals, families, companies and countries; to the rapid expansion of the ship building industries; to the growth of banks and insurance companies; to the expansion of ports and cities; every innovation was spurred by the lucrative trade in African slaves and the growth of the plantation system. So let them deny, while we continue to bring the evidence, we know that their wealth was built on the backs of enslaved African.

Once we shamed them with the evidence they contended that Africa was complicit. The culpability of Africa in the enslavement of her own kind is a recurring question in the debate over who should pay reparations. Molefi Kete Asanti states, that in tackling this response a good starting point would be to ask the questions, “Who travelled to Africa in search of captives?” “Who created an entire industry of shipbuilding, insurance, outfitting of crews and ships, and banking, based on the slave trade?” “Who benefited enormously from the evil and vile project of human kidnapping?” “What countries held the Asiento from the Catholic Church and the King of Spain for regions of Africa used exclusively for capturing Africans?” He added that “there are some fundamental facts. First, no African kingdom used slavery as its principal mode of production. Africa has produced no economies based on slavery. It was left to chattel to be used as tools in the development of wealth.” Under chattel slavery, the enslaved are defined as property that can be sold, bought, and inherited. A very vivid of the reality of this definition was “an auction of enslaved people in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century advertised two wet nurses as having much “good milk” and each with a “colt” and “filly,” a reference to their children. [Alvin Thompson, Confronting Slavery. Barbados: Thompson Business Services Inc. 2010 (25)].

the fact is that an African may have been sold in the interior, but by the time she reached the coast, she was classified as cargo and by the time she reached the plantation her description was in zoological terms

Asante argues further that, “in all massive enterprises where there are oppressors and the oppressed there will be collaborators. It is no secret that some of Africa’s best minds, Fanon, Memni, Karenga, have isolated incidents of collaboration among victims of oppression.” [Henry Louis Gates is Wrong about African Involvement in the Slave Trade by Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, Published 5/6/2010].

In Confronting Slavery: Breaking through the Corridors of Silence, Thompson writes that “at the outset several African rulers, including those of the Kongo empire and Dahomey, sought to resist the selling of their people into slavery. However, European armed infiltration into the interior, and connivance with competing African interest groups made it virtually impossible to prevent the development of the trade.”(5). One must never forget the 16th century appeal by the Kongolese Emperor to the Portugues King, “we beg of your highness to help and assist us in this matter, commanding your factors that they should send here neither merchants nor wares, because it is our will that in these kingdoms there should not be any trade in slaves nor market for slaves” [Thompson 105]. In the end, the fact is that an African may have been sold in the interior, but by the time she reached the coast, she was classified as cargo and by the time she reached the plantation her description was in zoological terms.

How long will this continue? Will we never forget?

The right wing has declared that black people will never forget slavery because they use it to make white people feel guilty; that they do not want to take responsibility for their own condition; that they want the money of the white man. My response is when will acknowledge that you have benefitted from slavery? When will racism end? When will you pay for the injustices?

Yet it is not enough for us to remember. We must face systematic injustice with an organised reparations movement. This process of reconstruction must be crafted to ensure healing, atonement and a new emphasis on nation building. Our centuries old ragtag movement must take on board the views of its diverse groups. Let us work collectively to ensure success.

Finally, let me share why I classify myself as part of the ragtag group of racial malcontent. As a female historian this was very personal to me. I recall sitting in a lecture delivered by the Vice Chancellor with unexplainable tears running down my face listening to the details of native genocide and conditions of slavery. Later, I realised that I was not crying because of the brutality of the systems but because up to that age, every historical fact that I had been taught had been a lie. We had been taught that the native people were cannibals who had to be civilized and that Africans were savages who had to be Christianised. I had written these words when I wrote “A” levels. I think that was my catharsis. Later on when on my arrival in United States I was called a nigger by a group of young men and six months later told by a young white woman that I was not quite black, I handled both situations with the confidence that my university education had given to me.

I would like to urge the Acting Prime Minister, who is the Minister of Education to ensure that our children are not just taught our history but our true history. It was Marcus Garver who reminded us that, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture, is like a tree without roots.” It was one of our Prime Ministers, Stephenson King who reminded us in 2011, that, “we keep forgetting that although we were the children of enslaved people, we are also the children of freedom fighters. It is as freedom fighters that we tackle the day to day challenges to our independence and to our global survival. Let us never forget that!”[King, Stephenson. Presentation at the Marcus Garvey Rally, Saint Lucia, 2011]. Let us never be ashamed to teach our history.

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture, is like a tree without roots

Every Caribbean woman should read Chapter 6 in Britain’s Black Debt entitled “Prostituting Enslaved Caribbean Women.” They will understand why I want reparations for black women who were systematically raped just because they were not owners of their own bodies; for women who were bred to replenish slave stocks; for women whose children were sold to other plantations and to other plantation systems in other countries; for women who were at the bottom of the slave system because they were black and female and who have remained in that position because of an entrenched patriarchal system that keeps dark skinned women from being called beautiful; for all the women who facilitated the grand maroonage of enslaved men; for all the young women who ran away, like 12-year-old named Marie-Catherine who runs away from her owner David Delile of Gros-Islet, St. Lucia.; for the older women like negresse Zabeth, native du Cap-Vent, who ran away with her 21 year old daughter; for all the females who participated in maritime maroonage, like the 25 year old Jeanette, creole de St. Pierre, Martinique, who ran away to Saint Lucia on the eve of the Haitian Revolution; and the stout well- made negro wench named Quasheba who ran away from Barbados in 1787 and found refuge in Micoud in Saint Lucia and survived by learning to speak creole; for the women who worked till they were old like the 81 year old Fanelou Delida who still worked in the hospital and Claire Coquette 68 who was infirm but still worked in the field on the Beausejour Estate in 1816; for Madeline Seraphin 10 and her 14 year old sister Dede who started their enslavement by working in the house on the La Resouce Estate; for Petronile who was killed on 11th April 1833 at the Fond d’Or Estate because she refused to work; for Clothilde who refused to cut grass on a Sunday and was whipped for her defiance and who knew her rights under the Code Noir and complained to the stipendiary magistrate who investigated the matter and found in her favour, causing the Mr. du Bocage, the estate manager to declare “This black woman would not do a thing for me;” for all the women who raised their voices in defiance. We want an apology and we want reparations. I hope that all Caribbean women will join the call for reparations and fight for the completion of our freedom.

I thank you.


Amighetti, Sara. “David Miller’s theory of redress and the complexity of colonial injustice” Ethics & Global Politics (2015)]

Asante, Molefi Kete. “Henry Louis Gates is Wrong about African Involvement in the Slave Trade.” 5/6/2010].

Bailey, Ronald W. (Ed.). “Black Business Enterprise: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. New York: Basic Books 1971. (xi).

Berry, Mary Frances. My Face Is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005

Beckles, Hilary. Britain’s Black Debt: Reparations for Slavery and Native Genocide. Jamaica: University of West Indies Press, 2013

Dwight, Timothy. “The Charitable Blessed.” A Sermon Preached in the First Church in New Haven, August 8, 1810 New Haven, Connecticut, (Sidney Press) 1810

Excerpt: Marcus Garvey, excerpt from a speech made circa 1919:]–news/category/al, 2015
Finkenbine, Roy E. “Free to Enslave: Politics and the Escalation of Britain’s Translantic.” The William and Mary Quarterly Third Series, Vol. 64, No. 1, (Jan., 2007), pp. 95-104. Published by: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture

Garvey Marcus. “Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers. Robert Abraham Hill (Editor) Vol. I. 1826-August 1919.

Harris, Lee A. “Reparations” as a Dirty Word: The Norm against Slavery Reparations” The University of Memphis Law Review, January 1, 2003. 404-448.

Herbert, Paul “Garveyism, Black Power, and the Intellectual History of the CARICOM Reparations Case,” African American Intellectual History Society, February 27, 2016

Quinlan, John. E. Report of the West India Royal Commission 1897. (Vol.3).John E. Quinlan, 9 March 1897 (74).

Martin, Tony. “A Pan –Africanist in Dominica: J R Ralph Casimir and the Garvey Movement 1913-1923 (123-141) 136 in John P. Henderson (ed), Studies in the African Diaspora: A Memorial to John R. Hooker 1929-1976: The Majority Press, 1989.]

Report of the West India Royal Commission 1897. Sir Henry Wylie Norman and Sir Edward Grey and Sir David Barbour.

Thompson, Alvin. Confronting Slavery: Breaking Through the Corridors of Silence. Barbados: Thompson Business Services Inc. 2010

Turner, James. “Callie House: The Pursuit of Reparations as a Means for Social Justice” [The Journal of African American History, Vol. 91, No. 3 (Summer, 2006), pp. 305-310

Winbush, Ray A. Belinda’s Petition: A Concise History of Reparations For The TransAtlantic Slave Trade. Indiana: Xlibris, Corp., 2009

One thought on “The Reparations Movement: “A Ragtag Collection of Racial Malcontents Marching to the Beat of Their Own Drum?”

    Lenward Gatison II

    As painful as it was to read this essay I am truly moved by its delivery. Absolutely phenomenal work here. Our ancestors started this movement and it’s on us to build on their blueprint. I’d be interested in getting to know more and helping organize our people with structured course of action.

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