Louisiana Activists to Protest Bank One Reparations Offer
Last month, JPMorgan Chase/Bank One disclosed that two of its predecessor banks in Louisiana allowed 13,000 enslaved Africans to be used as collateral on loans and took ownership of 1,250 enslaved Africans when the loans defaulted. The bank issued a public apology and said it would create a $5 million college scholarship fund for African Americans in Louisiana. "This ridiculous amount of money does not come anywhere near what that company owes us for the devastation they caused our ancestors and their descendants," said Antoinette Harrell-Miller, a noted Louisiana genealogist, New Orleans television personality, and organizer of the press conference. "They must pay us more," she said.
Louisiana reparations activists say they were never consulted on the decision to create the scholarship fund, and are concerned about where the funds will actually go. "This paternalistic approach to paying reparations is reminiscent of how Blacks were treated during slavery," says New Orleans attorney Pius Obioha, co-lead counsel in a federal class action case for slavery reparations pending against Bank One and 17 other corporations. Obioha and his co-lead counsel, Harry Cantrell will attend the press conference.
"As a White Southerner with a commitment to social justice, I believe it is important to take directions from African Americans on issues that affect them and their community," says Jason Meville, former Chair of the Louisiana Green Party and grandson of former Louisiana Governor, David C. Treen. Treen was the first Republican Governor elected in Louisiana since Reconstruction. The Green Party was the only party during the last presidential election that put reparations on its party platform. Meville and other representatives from the Green Party will attend the press conference.
Other activists scheduled to attend include Chuck Barber, a performance artist who will reenact the experience of being enslaved, shackled, and sold by Bank One; Carl Gammon, a civil rights activist who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Pastor Adam Gordon of All Nations Church of God In Christ; local civil rights groups; and African drummers.