Survey Shows Most Blacks Favor Slavery Reparations
Wave Newspapers, News Report, Kevin Herrera, Oct 18, 2005
LOS ANGELES "” Eighty-nine percent of blacks believe the federal government should offer a combination of cash payments, debt forgiveness and social welfare programs to compensate for the devastating effects of slavery and racial segregation, according to a new survey released Tuesday.
Aimed at unifying a movement that has at times seemed fractured, the Reparations Survey, conducted by the Reparations Research and Advocacy Group, will be used to formulate an articulate platform on reparations that more accurately defines the desires of African-Americans. The platform would then be used in negotiations with the federal government and private corporations that profited from slave labor.
"It will be even more difficult than necessary to try and achieve reparations for black folk without asking black folk what they want," wrote David Horne, Ph.D., who started the survey in April 2002 while teaching Pan African Studies at Cal State Northridge. "In order to forge a unified national agenda on reparations, the credible results of a sound survey of the black American population is absolutely necessary."
Volunteers surveyed 6,680 blacks beginning in April 2002. Those who participated in the survey were between the ages of 17 and 80, with over 50 percent being between the ages of 35 and 55. The responses were collected at shopping malls, conferences, political rallies, churches, block club meetings and sporting events.
The survey was conducted in Atlanta, Kansas City, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Ore., San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Columbia, S.C., and Jacksonville, Fla.
Each person surveyed was asked to answer 21 questions related to reparations for African Americans. Questions ranged from "Do you consider yourself an African American, a.k.a., black American?" to "Do you think that the idea of reparations for African Americans is an issue of justice long denied and overdue?" and "Should substantial financial assistance from the U.S. government to African Americans who want to leave this country to live in Africa be a part of any agreed-upon reparations?"
Respondents were also encouraged to write in their own ideas on how reparations should be paid, including restitution to those who invested in the Freedmen's Bureau Bank, which folded during the Reconstruction Era. Some have also called for incorporating more African-American history into school curriculum and providing more subsidies to black farmers.
As part of any reparations deal, 70 percent of blacks said the president should apologize on behalf of the federal government for the years of Jim Crow discrimination.
Seventy percent also favored a 50-year educational fund for all black youth, allowing them to attend the university of their choice if admitted.
Nearly 80 percent believe that achieving reparations will help heal the racial divide in this country and 80 percent believe that reparations will not make things worse for African Americans.
While the survey failed to ask whether or not blacks think whites should pay for reparations, 80 percent of those surveyed said white Americans, even though they did not own slaves, continue to be enriched from the unpaid labor of slaves.
Horne said volunteers will continue to conduct the survey until 50,000 or more people participate. That figure should be reached or exceeded by next fall, he said. Horne will be attending the Millions More Movement this weekend in Washington, D.C., where he will gather more responses.