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April 17, 2014

U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr.
U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. has
been invited to speak at this
weekend's conference in Chicago.

Major Reparations Conference Scheduled for This Weekend in Chicago

The event is being held as Caribbean nations threaten to sue Europe for the trans-Atlantic slave trade

by Frederick H. Lowe
Chicago State University will host a major reparations conference this weekend in Chicago.

The one-day conference, which is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p. m. Saturday, April 19, is intended to spark the long-dormant reparations movement in the United States in the wake of what is now occurring overseas.

Recently, 14 Caribbean nations demanded reparations and apologies from the European countries responsible  for the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The Caribbean countries, which go by the name CARICOM, have listed 10 demands, which include repatriation, development of cultural institutions, debt cancellation and transfer of technology.

The 14 countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.  Montserrat, whose foreign affairs are governed by Britain, is not participating with other CARICOM members.

The Caribbean countries will present a plan to Britain, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Spain and Portugal, seeking reparations. If the European countries do not want to negotiate, CARICOM is prepared to sue them in the World Court, which is located in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Arthur Napoleon Robinson, the late president and prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, forwarded a proposal that led to the founding of the World Court. Sweden has indicated that it will negotiate with CARICOM.

White plantation owners in the U.S. received reparations for the loss of their slaves
Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a leading voice demanding that European colonial powers pay reparations to Caribbean and South American countries, will deliver the keynote address in Chicago.

Conference officials also have invited U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D., Mich.), co-sponsor of HR-40, the Reparations Study Bill. Conyers introduced the legislation in the 111th Congress in 2009. The bill would establish a commission to study slavery from 1619 to 1865 and its impact on African Americans living today.

In addition, Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Chicago-based nation of Islam, is scheduled to speak.

Although most Americans associate reparations with blacks, after the Civil War, the federal government paid reparations to white slave owners for the loss of their slaves, who were considered property, said Dr. Lewis Gordon, a professor of Philosophy, African Studies and Judaic Studies at the University of Connecticut.

"Reparations are recompense for loss of property, " Prof. Gordon said. "The trick is that black people couldn't own property; they were considered property."

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