Lawyers and activists discussed how the country can heal lingering wounds of slavery through reparations at a two-day symposium at the University of California’s Boalt Hall School of Law.
Some called for direct payments while others sought improved health care and the creation of a more prominent role for heroic abolitionists in this nation’s remembered history.
Everyone agreed the United States should acknowledge that blacks still suffer the debilitating effects of centuries of enslavement.
“To think that we can enslave a people for centuries and after they have been freed have a century of discrimination, and then say a few years of ’sort of affirmative action’ is enough, is not rational,” said Mary Louise Frampton, director of the Center for Social Justice at Boalt, which sponsored “Reparations for Slavery and Its Legacy.” “And yet, that is what a majority of this country has concluded.”
Constructing a principled argument to justify reparations when so many people dismiss it as a self-serving movement is key, he said. The argument isn’t simply that this nation enslaved black people.
One panel emphasized that reparations aren’t a new idea. Many Japanese-Americans received them as compensation for internment during World War II and Austria has paid out millions to Holocaust survivors.