Newark reparations march: ‘They stole us, they sold us, they owe us!’

Marching through downtown Newark, June 24.

Over a hundred people marched through downtown Newark, N.J., on June 24 demanding reparations for the African Holocaust. Called by the People’s Organization for Progress, the demonstration was greeted by people at bus stops with clenched fists.

Speaking at a rally, Larry Hamm, chairperson of POP, quoted Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois in saying that at least 150 million people were stolen from Africa during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. World capitalism was built upon this colossal crime, along with the genocide committed against Indigenous peoples throughout the Americas.

Hamm noted that New Jersey’s history was intertwined with slavery. The state legislature initially refused to pass the 13th Amendment banning slavery.

Among the huge companies that have benefited from racism is Prudential Insurance, whose headquarters the demonstrators marched past. Prudential sold “Jim Crow” policies at higher rates to African Americans for decades.

At the beginning of the rally, support was raised for H.R. 40, a bill calling for reparations in the House of Representatives initiated by Rep. John Conyers, dean of the Black Congressional Caucus. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr., who was in attendance, said he was going to add his name as a co-sponsor.

Omowale Clay of the December 12th Movement led the crowd in chanting, “They stole us! They sold us! They owe us!” a powerful slogan which D12 originated. Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report pointed out that 150 years ago the biggest U.S. capitalist investments were in enslaved Africans.

Dr. James McIntosh spoke from N’COBRA, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America, which has been in the vanguard on this issue for 30 years. Other organizations that participated included the Nation of Islam, the Black Lives Matter movement and BAYAN.

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