Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves will present the keynote address at an international forum entitled “Revitalizing the Reparations Movement” at Chicago State University on April 19.
Gonsalves, who is also chair of the CARICOM, is one of the leading voices in the Americas demanding that former European colonial powers pay reparations to Caribbean and South American countries for centuries of African enslavement, native genocide and colonial exploitation.
The forum is organized by the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) in conjunction with the Center for Inner City Studies and the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference.
Specially invited guests will be Detroit’s John Conyers, Sr., dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, and sponsor of HR-40, the Reparations Study Bill and Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam.
A primary goal of the forum is to revitalize the reparations movement in the USA by revisiting the Durban Resolution on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, presenting an update on HR-40 and examining the status of CARICOM’s reparations initiative.
The forum will be hosted by Wayne Watson, president and Angela Henderson, Provost of the Chicago State University and moderated by Judge Lionel Baptiste.
Other speakers will include Conrad Worrill, director/professor, Center for Inner City Studies; Iva Carruthers, general secretary; Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference; Dr. Ron Daniels, President of the Institute of the Black World; JoAnn Watson, former Detroit City Council Member; Don Rojas, director of communications, Institute of the Black World and Illinois State Rep. Donne Trotter.
“We are delighted and honoured to have Prime Minister Gonsalves keynote this critical forum on reparations, a subject of fundamental historical justice that is near and dear to the hearts of Black people around the world,” said IBW’s Daniels.
“Our ancestors will be pleased that the reparations movement is being re-energized from the Caribbean islands,” said Conrad Worrill, director of Chicago’s Inner City Studies.
“In demanding reparations, CARICOM is vindicating the vestiges of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.”
CARICOM leaders meeting in St. Vincent on March 10 and 11 took one more important step in their quest for reparatory justice against European countries that had engaged in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and in slavery itself.
They unanimously adopted a 10-point plan that would seek a formal apology for slavery, debt cancellation from former colonizers such as Britain, France, Spain and the Netherlands and reparation payments to repair the persisting “psychological trauma” from the days of plantation slavery.
The plan also calls for assistance to boost the region’s technological capacity and strengthen its public health, education and cultural institutions such as museums and research centres. If the European powers fail to publicly apologize and refuse to come to the negotiating table, the CARICOM nations said they will file a law suit against the European powers at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
Last July, at the CARICOM heads of government summit in Trinidad and Tobago the leaders mandated the establishment of a Regional Reparations Commission charged with seeking restitution for citizens of their respective countries. Since then, national reparations commissions have been established in all 14 countries that make up CARICOM.
“We welcome this further step in reconnecting our shared histories and legacies,” said Iva Carruthers, general secretary, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference.
“The moral agency of the Black church must never abandon its claim on an apology and reparations for the protracted crimes against African humanity, during and as a result of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade”.