Black activists demand Obama address racism
Published Mar 27, 2009 11:42 PM
The following statement was issued by members of the December 12th
Movement, who held a press conference on March 21 in Harlem on the U.S.
government’s refusal to attend the United Nations World Conference
against Racism-Durban Review in April.
D12 member Attorney Roger Wareham
speaks at March 21 news conference.
Photo: Omowale Clay
As we mark this International Day for the Elimination of Racism, Black human
rights activists across the country are holding simultaneous press conferences
to protest President Barack Obama’s threat to boycott the United Nations
World Conference against Racism-Durban Review being held in Geneva,
Switzerland, next month. U.S. State Department officials have demanded any
reference to African slave reparations in U.N. official documents must be
removed in order for them to participate.
The first World Conference against Racism met in Durban, South Africa, in
September 2001 and its final Declaration “acknowledge(d) that slavery and
the slave trade, including the transatlantic slave trade, were appalling
tragedies in the history of humanity not only because of their abhorrent
barbarism but also in terms of their magnitude, organized nature and especially
their negation of the essence of the victims, and further acknowledge that
slavery and the slave trade are a crime against humanity and should always have
been so, especially the transatlantic slave trade.”
This declaration that the transatlantic slave trade was a crime against
humanity was a culmination of centuries of work and suffering by our people to
establish that the attack on our humanity by European nations was a crime. A
crime of such proportions that time cannot protect or shield its perpetrators
from facing justice and its victims from obtaining reparations.
Now, eight years later, this April 20 through 24, at the United Nations in
Geneva, Switzerland, the Durban II Review of the historic World Conference
against Racism takes place. It is an international effort to review what
progress has taken place and remains to be done to obtain justice, compensation
and reconciliation for the victims of racism in general and the transatlantic
slave trade in particular.
Once again, even with the first Black President of the United States, Barack
Obama, at the helm, the United States and its European allies are attempting to
derail the process and reverse the “correct verdicts” of the 2001
Black human and civil rights activists are letting their voices be heard today
[March 21] nationwide, including in Philadelphia, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta,
Charleston, St. Louis, Memphis, Washington D.C., Dayton, Kansas City and Fort
We demand the full and unconditional participation of the United States in the
conference. The U.S. was built on brutal racism and the exploitation of
enslaved African peoples’ labor. Systemic and institutional racism
continues to this very day. We will continue to fight for justice for the
crimes against humanity suffered by our people. They stole us, they sold us,
they owe us! Reparations Now!
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