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Los Angeles councilmembers Bernard Parks, Jan Perry and Herb Wesson recently hosted “A Different Kind of Reparations Town Hall Meeting” at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park in Los Angeles to discuss the modern meaning of reparations for African Americans Today.
In addition to the most powerful Black-elected officials in the City of Los Angeles, the list of panelists, scholars and experts allowed for a diverse array of individuals whose input is and has been important to the reparations discussion.
The town hall meeting wasbroadcast live on KJLH Radio-FREE 102.3’s Saturday morning community affairs program. Hosted by Jacque Stephens, the station’s community affairs director, the program included Dr. Reverend Cecil L. “Chip” Murray, Dr. David L. Horne, California State University Northridge professor, Dr. Susan Anderson, managing director of University of Southern California libraries, Dr. Pamela Porter, professor of sociology and demographics, Wayne Pulliam, local historian and member of the Senior Center Library Advisory Board, and Natalie Cole, publisher and CEO of Our Weekly Newspaper.
The town hall meeting, which began at 8:00 a.m. and provided light breakfast snacks for the early-morning reparations information seekers and supporters, featured presentations from the panelists on the history of slavery, the impact it has had on the evolution and progress of African Americans in Los Angeles, and the steps that can be taken to repair the cycle of poverty that has developed as a result of slavery.
A question and answer segment, following the individual presentations, gave attendees an opportunity to further expand their knowledge of the reparations issue and seek clarification on some of the most frequently asked questions about what reparations are and when will Black people get them.
Horne, an historical scholar and frequent lecturer domestically and internationally on the subject of reparations made it clear that there is no certain timetable relative to the reparations issue and added that the issue cannot be reduced to a paycheck for eligible recipients.
In addition, as the reparations issue gains momentum domestically through the efforts of a variety of local and national organizations whose primary aim is to secure some form of reparations for the descendants of African slaves in this country, Black elected officials are launching initiatives that may continue to advance the reparations discussion.
It was noted that Parks, Perry and Wesson secured Los Angeles City Council support of House Resolution 194, a bill originally introduced by Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee that calls for an apology for slavery and its lingering impact on Blacks.
The event organizers noted that, “it is important that the community have a suitable forum to learn more about the reparations issue and to discuss the modern meaning of reparations for African Americans today.
At the conclusion of the Town Hall meeting, native Los Angeles resident Stephan Brooks said. “This forum appeared to be an opportunity for some Black elected officials to demonstrate their support of issues that affect African Americans while, on the other hand, they are supporting initiatives that are favorable to illegal immigrants.”
“The reparations issue has already been thoroughly reviewed,” he continued, “In 1994, Silis Muhammad, CEO of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam, offered a resolution to the United Nations that addressed all of the current issues being discussed and in 2000, Harper’s Magazine published a thorough examination of the Reparations issue authored by attorneys Gary, Pires, Scruggs and Sweet.”
“Our elected officials must acknowledge the work that has already been done and initiate those resolutions that will secure for us the reparations to which they are entitled.”