Drive a stake in slavery's rotten heart
'Pay reparations, free political prisoners'

By Monica Moorehead
New York, June 11

Two important news conferences here have helped bring attention to issues affecting the Black movement's quest for social justice.

The first took place on June 17 when Black activists and elected officials met on the steps of City Hall to call for reparations. The press conference focused on three resolutions on the local, state and national level that call for setting up commissions to examine the economic and political impact of the Trans-Atlantic African slave trade on the African American population today.

The African slave trade greatly enriched the coffers of the U.S. capitalist economy, helping to propel the U.S. to its position as the dominant imperialist country in the world. At least 4 million African people were brutally exploited by not being paid one penny for all the great wealth they created.

The speakers at the news conference all talked of the racist inequities that the African American community continues to suffer in U.S. society, including youth incarceration, police brutality, inadequate education, health care, housing and much more--all rooted in the legacy of slavery.

Speakers included U.S. Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the architect of the first reparations bill introduced in Congress in 1989. Roger Green, a New York State Assembly member, spoke on current legislation calling for a statewide commission to determine the impact of slavery in New York City from 1625 until 1827.

City Councilperson Bill Perkins spoke about a local reparations bill entitled the "Queen Mother Moore Resolution for Reparations." Moore was a beloved African American activist for more than 60 years who demanded reparations until her passing.

Other speakers included the reverends Herbert Daughtry and Al Sharpton. Attorney Roger Wareham spoke on the historic lawsuit that has been filed in the New York and New Jersey courts demanding that particular corporations that profited off the slave trade pay reparations. Viola Plummer, a leader of the December 12th Movement, raised the rally in Washington, D.C., calling for reparations that will take place on Aug. 17.

On June 26, also on the steps of City Hall, City Council member and longtime social activist Charles Barron called for the release of all political prisoners. Barron brought special attention to the cases of political prisoners Jalil Muntaqim and Robert Seth Hayes, who are both up for parole this month. Former political prisoners Safiya Bukhari and Herman Ferguson from the Jericho Movement and former Black Panther leader Kathleen Cleaver joined Barron at the news conference.

Barron has introduced the first legislation in the history of New York City bringing attention to political prisoners incarcerated because of the FBI's racist Cointelpro attacks.

Part of Barron's press statement read, "I am introducing a resolution which condemns the criminalization of political activity and expression as a method of political control, and abuses by agents of the U.S. government, including law enforcement agencies which are designed to stifle political beliefs. ... There is past precedent for support of the cause of other political prisoners. Why can they not do the same for Black political prisoners?"