By Victor Ochieng
The June 17, 2015 killing of nine people inside a Charleston, South Carolina church came as a sad occurrence for peace loving Americans. A gunman went into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and opened fire on parishioners who were at the church for an evening Bible study.
That unfortunate incident pushed the national African American Reparations Commission, also known as the Reparations Labor Union, to write a letter to President Barack Obama, demanding that he gives an executive order for the reparation to African Americans.
In their letter, they highlighted a few heart-wrecking incidents in which Black people have died at the hands of police officers, including the saddening events of Ferguson, Baltimore and Charleston. The letter noted that such incidents have “revealed that white supremacy, in all of its individual, institutional and structural manifestations, is a deadly disease that remains deeply [e]mbedded in the American psyche and the social, economic and political fabric of this society.
They, therefore, asked “Mr. President, in the name of the esteemed Dr. John Hope Franklin, whose father Buck Franklin defended Black survivors of the horrific 1921 Tulsa race riots that destroyed ‘Black Wall Street,’ and who himself was the victim of racial insults and discrimination on numerous occasions, and in honor of Dr. Franklin’s 100th birthday, we call upon you to have the vision to create a Commission on Reparatory Justice in his name.”
In the petition, the organization is asking the president to ratify Detroit Congressman John Conyers’ H.R.40 reparations legislation. The group is proposing that reparations money be raised through a National Jubilee Lottery or sweepstakes, in which winners are paid normally, while ticket sales are used for the reparations process.
So far, only 294 people have signed the petition ahead of the October 1, 2016 deadline, the date by which the petition is required to garner at least 100,000 signatures if the president is to give it attention.
To have as many people as possible to append their signatures on the petition, the Reparations Labor Union has created a simple app that makes it easier for mobile device users to support the campaign. The app is available for both iOS and Android platforms and can be downloaded from iTunes and Google Play. Supporters can also sign the petition on the Reparations Labor Union website.
In a recently released statement, the Reparations Labor Union president Anita Belle said: “We see reparations as a means of repairing race relations in America. White police officers killing unarmed blacks, is a headline that occurs too frequently, as if a race war is being waged against African Americans. If we truly want peace and truth and reconciliation in America, then reparations must be paid. It isn’t a handout. It’s a debt owed.”